MINORITY PARTY

WHY DEMOCRATS FACE DEFEAT IN 1992 AND BEYOND

Polemic arguing that the Democratic Party is headed for the dustbin of history because the core electorate—the white middle- class—perceives it as dominated by minority concerns. Brown, chief political writer for Scripps Howard News Service, says the Democrats are hiding from an unpleasant truth they've long known: that the white middle-class blames them for the welfare society, for reverse discrimination coming out of affirmative action, and for crime. Furthermore, Brown argues, many whites perceive Democrats as ``cater[ing] to racial minorities, the poor, and the elite liberal whites who [run] the party''—in other words, ``paying for the other guy.'' With a torrent of statistics and opinion-poll results, interviews of politicians, and folksy portraits of a few former Democrats who quit the party in disgust, Brown identifies a tremendous white backlash driven by prejudice, fear, and wounded self-interest and argues that liberal guilt is dead. The working class, he says, has been absorbed into the middle-class; union voting blocks are shrinking; and machine politics don't operate in the suburbs where the white middle-class has moved. Fed reality via a flickering TV screen and rootless after changing suburbs every few years, such white voters—by ``simple math'' the largest voting bloc—buy the Republican message of economic self-interest, Brown argues. If he's right, the Democrats, ignorant of such demographics, will continue to lose the presidency and will soon lose their control of Congress and state and local governments. Brown, far from impartial, will be wide open to charges of promoting the racism he describes. And there's a perversity to his implied thesis that Democrats can't win unless they become even more indistinguishable from Republicans. Moreover, like the GOP, Brown doesn't discuss the S&L debacle, deficits, or any evidence counter to his claim that the GOP serves the economic self-interest of the middle class.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 1991

ISBN: 0-89526-530-3

Page Count: 350

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1991

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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