A highly readable, very short introduction to the American legal system. Touches on historical transformations of criminal law, civil rights, family lA highly readable, very short introduction to the American legal system. Touches on historical transformations of criminal law, civil rights, family law, federal powers, & more. Engaging writing and choice anecdotes give muscle to what could have been a vague summary. For example, Friedman's description of women's rights as wives at the turn of the 19th century: "Husband and wife were, as the saying went, one flesh; but the husband was very definitely in charge of that flesh. And more than the flesh. The wife had, in many ways, as few rights as a newborn baby or a lunatic" (59)....more
A impressively researched history of King Leopold of Belgium's fiendishly clever claiming of the Congo at the turn of the 20th century, and subsequentA impressively researched history of King Leopold of Belgium's fiendishly clever claiming of the Congo at the turn of the 20th century, and subsequent systematic enslavement and slaughter of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of the native Congoese. The various ne'er do wells and sociopaths who did Leopold's dirty work became the inspiration for Kurtz in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, though Conrad's version behaved with more restraint.
Hochschild's account is alternately enraging and inspiring. The book contains so much evidence of greed and cruelty you long for Old Testament style retribution against Leopold & his murderous agents [spoiler: it doesn't happen]. But then there is the other side of the story--the largescale international human rights movement against Leopold, started and organized by E.D. Morel, an ordinary shipping clerk gifted with a endless supply of indignation. The fact that Morel's journalism succeeded in marshalling so much productive worldwide outrage testifies to people's general capacity for compassion, though Hochschild points out the substantial limitations of this outrage.
I found this totally engrossing the whole way through. The narrative is clearly structured, and includes fascinating countless mini-portraits and first person accounts. Most devastating are the testimonies of the Congoese themselves, whose stories of suffering and horror will haunt you like a bad dream, only worse, because it was all true. ...more
Inspiring, wrenching, enraging, occasionally a slog to read, but ultimately invaluable for so many reasons. Filled with amazing first person accountsInspiring, wrenching, enraging, occasionally a slog to read, but ultimately invaluable for so many reasons. Filled with amazing first person accounts and eloquent arguments by Zinn that I wish I'd taken the time to copy down (there was a really metal metaphor from a union pamphlet about the workers' suffering being a skeleton dancing in flames bathed in human tears). Chapters on early 20th century union strikes were like that George Orwell image of boot stomping on human face forever. Also a really nice summary of why Bill Clinton is megs crappy and overrated (and I would claim to be a liberal). There are some jarring instances of unsupported assertions and inconsistent reasoning (like the clumsy grouping of AIDS in with his claim that we can blame rising cancer rates on the government's creation of a toxic environment). Still, these flaws don't take away from Zinn's observations about the insanely huge (and growing) role of class and wealth in shaping government policy, patterns of race relations, ridiculous military spending, and past precedents for effective and heartfelt group action across divides.