A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.

DOLLARS FOR LIFE

THE ANTI-ABORTION MOVEMENT AND THE FALL OF THE REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT

The far-reaching consequences of abortion activism.

Legal historian Ziegler, who has documented the complexities of the abortion debate in several previous books, revisits the growth of the anti-abortion campaign with a focus on its impact on the Supreme Court, connection to campaign finance laws, and shaping of the contemporary political scene. After a brief overview of medical and legal arguments about abortion beginning in the mid-19th century, the author traces the controversy over right to life versus right to privacy that culminated in the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. After the court upheld Roe in 1992, activism shifted from local candidates to the national scene, focused on supporting presidential aspirants who would appoint conservative justices to the court. Campaign finance reform became part of that effort because limiting contributions made it difficult for advocacy groups to exert influence. The anti-abortion movement, therefore, saw an advantage in doing away with campaign finance limits, which, its lawyers argued, were equal to “restrictions on political speech.” Republicans have seen the issue of judicial nominees as a way to energize base voters, and they welcomed campaign finance deregulation to fill their coffers. However, as Ziegler shows, both alliances have weakened the GOP, opening the door to well-funded populists and fostering the party polarization that allows extremists, whom the party previously would have sidelined, to flourish. Ziegler’s deeply researched analysis draws on histories of the anti-abortion and abortion-rights movements, media reports, archival sources, legal decisions, and interviews—notably with James Bopp Jr., an Indiana lawyer at the forefront of anti-abortion strategy—to argue persuasively that the political complexities of abortion activism threaten democracy. Overturning Roe, and leaving abortion law up to individual states, is not the end goal of the anti-abortion movement; rather, activists are striving for a constitutional amendment that will outlaw abortion nationally.

A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-300-26014-4

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2022

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The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

SORRY NOT SORRY

Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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