Chris Hayes is a very capable political commentator and this book has much broader implications than its shelving would suggest. Twilight of the Elite...moreChris Hayes is a very capable political commentator and this book has much broader implications than its shelving would suggest. Twilight of the Elites is to the greater theme of social inequality as The New Jim Crow is to the issue of racial inequality in America. The two go hand-in-hand and are descriptions of the same social manifestation. It is on my must-read list and is an excellent response to anyone who buys into the meritocratic structuring of society without acknowledging how inequality can turn such a common sense philosophy into a system of economic oppression. Twilight of the Elites should be the starting point of any conversation about how equal opportunity is an American myth. Chris' is the story if how institutions so easily corrupt themselves once morality and checks-and-balances are done away with and how these institutions turn around and justify such blatant abuses of power and influence. Whether we are talking about the Catholic Church, higher learning or government, the message should not be lost. Unfortunately, due to Hayes' association with MSNBC and current career as a Liberal/Progressive pundit, in our highly polarized political climate, I'm afraid it will. I would especially recommend this book to Conservatives, both in political affiliation and philosophy. They are perhaps the people who need to read this the most and also those most likely to refuse. I would also recommend this book to immigrant members of the middle-class who often buy into the meritocratic dream and fail to see society from the perspective of the people they often look down upon as primarily responsible for the situation that their communities find themselves in.(less)
Reads like a textbook, probably because it is one... Extremely dry and factual. There are some contentions with some of the information here and there...moreReads like a textbook, probably because it is one... Extremely dry and factual. There are some contentions with some of the information here and there, but the author attempted to be as unbiased as she could while recognizing that she is in fact an outside observer. I read the book to get a grasp on the effects of the global and internal slave trade upon Africa during the time period, along with the forms that slavery took internally amongst the Muslim and animist populations. She did do an excellent job with the subject overall. She also does an good job with the effects of the climate (which is extremely relevant given the affects of climate change on the poorer nations of the world), as well as Christian and Muslim movements upon the populace.
I struggled through the first half of the book, putting it down several times and nearly gave up on it. The second half read a little easier, mostly because I paced myself and read only a few pages at a time. It hence took me four months to complete it. It isn't something that you can just read in a few sittings: it literally put me to sleep several times and I had to stop reading it before driving any considerable distance. This is a decent college textbook, but I would not recommend it as a casual read.(less)
This is book is far better than I had originally expected. I was hoping it would give me some insight into the environment around which my parents gre...moreThis is book is far better than I had originally expected. I was hoping it would give me some insight into the environment around which my parents grew up that lead them to join the Black/Brown Power Movement - it did that and so much more. This book is a fascinating documentation of the generational shift that occurred as the Civil Rights Movement moved north and entered into metropolitan areas. It is not just a tale of corruption and violent revolution, but a city at a time when the racial tensions boiled over and exploded. The South had Jim Crow, the North had a system of racial oppression that was in its own ways more profound and devastating to the underprivileged communities. If this book does nothing other than debunk the continued social lie that the South is where racism was rooted, it would be enough. Though somewhat of a true-life crime novel, this book should stand alongside The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness and other such works devoted to explaining how alive and well institutional racism still is in contemporary America. If people don't make the connection between then and now, they have missed English's entire point. The detail and thorough of this book is amazing and the way that English gives the living history of a generation through the real-life, personal experiences of three individuals is brilliant. It is an eye-opener and is definitively on my recommended reading list.(less)
It is Michelle Alexander's experience as a lawyer which makes this such a successful piece. It is not novelty that makes this book so profound, but th...moreIt is Michelle Alexander's experience as a lawyer which makes this such a successful piece. It is not novelty that makes this book so profound, but the authority upon which the argument is made: simple statistics and inarguable facts. In the very beginning, Mrs. Alexander states for whom this book was written: people who have a hard time convincing friends, neighbors and others that there is something oddly familiar with the current order. She has done this perfectly and thus I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a hard time convincing others that the current state of Blackamerica is not due to a mortal/cultural flaw, but instead stems from a perfect storm of institutional control that perhaps was initially well-intended, but at present insist upon maintaining a status quo that has decimated the African-American community and is doing the same to our Latino brothers and sisters.
I was both vindicated and saddened in finding evidence from a lawyer in confirmation of my understanding that the United States Supreme Court, particularly the current make-up, has been a friend to the political and economic elite of this country, an enemy to the politically impotent masses and a main obstacle against any meaningful change in society at large. It was both shocking and appauling to see that the chief justices in the land acknowledging the existence of corrosive racism that has become inherent in the criminal "justice" system, while refusing to do anything but maintain the status quo since the only viable solution would be to dismantle the system - something which they deemed impossible. Once we reach that level of protectionism by the very same institution that is supposed to be the ultimate check on executive and legislative authority, what is left but a complete overhaul of the system - dare I say "revolution"?
The only criticism I have is that in her initial summary of the chapter contents, she seems to often have simply copied key sentences word for word, which is rather annoying, but minimal (and easily forgotten). Stylistically, it made for a redundancy and the book perhaps would have been better off without any foreshadowing summaries at all (current and future authors take note).
It has always been my person theory that most conspiracies are not concocted in smokey backrooms, but simply come into existence when particular interests converge and work towards the same goal in a previously established order. In short, what you have before you is the anatomy of just such a conspiracy and an uncomfortable reality that needs to be first acknowledged before we can ever begin to talk about social, racial and economic justice in the United States in any meaningful way. (less)
I read this during my communist-leaning early teens. This is Che Guevara's classical treatise on the methods of guerrilla warfare. Its relevance howev...moreI read this during my communist-leaning early teens. This is Che Guevara's classical treatise on the methods of guerrilla warfare. Its relevance however lies articulating the mindset and world-view of the revolutionary freedom fighters of the 60's and 70's across the Third World. It is a stark reminder that war is a bloody, cold, violent and not something which should be taken lightly. (less)