Some Recommendations ...
Eric Alterman recommends Randall Kennedy's"Schooling in Equality". It's a review for TNR of Richard Kluger's Simple Justice and Michael Klarman's From Jim Crow to Civil Rights. I haven't read Klarman yet, but Kluger's book is just amazingly good, given the fact that he published it 30 years ago, so soon after the history it covered. It's great to have a new edition of it.
Liberty and Power's David Beito and Charles Nuckolls have a very provocative article,"Wrong Song of the South: The Dangerous Fallacies of Confederate Multiculturalism" at Reason. It was an excellent argument when Beito first blogged about it and it's even better as an article. In an interesting way, it plays the identity politics of the Right against the identity politics of the Left to expose the bankruptcy of both.
Hot button social issues aren't particularly good markers of the American Left and the American Right. There are simply too many evangelical feminists, gay Christians and Jews, and conservative African Americans to make it work. In any case,"One Is Enough" in Sunday's New York Times, an article about Amy Richards' decision to abort two of her triplets, provoked some very interesting discussions. See: HugoSchwyzer and Unfogged. Richards' story reminded me of Hannah Arendt's phrase about"the banality of evil."
I recommend Garry Kasparov's moving tribute to Bobby Fischer in the Wall Street Journal. It's hard to imagine that we will prosecute Fischer. His inner demons are torture enough.
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Derek Charles Catsam - 7/21/2004
Klarman's book is one of the most impressive efforts I have seen in civil rights legal history and as far as civil rights syntheses go in general. By impressive, I mean that the monumental nature of the work deserves admiration. At the OAH, in my panel I was asked about Klarman, and I was foolish enough to be honest by saying "It is a bit of a slog to read, in all honesty" but it is a slog any serious civil rights historian needs to make. Klarman was chair of the panel I did at the American Society for Legal History's conference in DC last November, and it tickled me to no end that he very much liked my paper. And he is an amazing, amazing legal historian. But to sit down and read the book IS a bit of a slog. As you know, Klarman has also written one of the most provocative journal articles in all of Southern history in the last decade with his "Backlash Thesis" argument about Brown. In any case his articles about the politcal natuire of the court and how it thus reacts to events is vital, and I suspect it is one we'll be dealing with for twenty years.
Agreed that it is nice to have a new release of Kluger out again also. I understand that it is an expanded edition, too, which is a way for the bastards to get me to fork out $35 for a book which I already own. Grrrr . . .