Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Like many others I had read Glenn Greenwald’s articles regarding Edward Snowden, the CIA analyst and whistle-blower. I did my own research regarding the plight of whistle blowers in the US and the content that Snowden allegedly released. To say that I was thrilled to read Permanent Record by Snowden is an understatement. His story in his own words. It was everything I anticipated. Snowden is brilliant and his book is brilliantly written.Edward_Snowden_-_Permanent_Record_(cover)

The fact is there are those who are going to love or hate this book without ever cracking the cover. That’s fine, except theirs isn’t a review of the book. The book is well written and very necessary especially given that, bowing to political pressure, Greenwald and the Intercept have deleted the Snowden events and articles from their archives in a very Orwellian manner no less. When we cannot count on news sources to keep important records in their files then we have lost any hope of a free and open press or democratic government. So, this book has been read, reviewed and it will stay on my shelf along with other “deleted” texts and permanent records that our government and our press have chosen to erase from our history!

The Jemima Code @ToniTiptonMartin #BannedBookWeek

There is more than one way to burn a book and there are plenty of people running around with matches.  ~Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451

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#BannedBookWeek continues here at #Macsbooks as I take a look at The Jemima Code by Toni Tipton-Martin. While this book has not been “banned,” the contents of the book have been questioned, hidden and lied about for centuries. As Bradbury states in the quote above, you don’t have to literally ban or burn a book in order to suppress the information.That is exactly what has happened to African American cooks, chefs, Nannies and Mammies over the years.

In The Jemima Code – which is NOT a cookbook, by the way – Tipton-Martin has compiled and curated the stories, histories and covers of many lost African-American cookbooks. The books were “lost” to us for the simple fact that they are authored or written by or about African American cooks. It was long held as a “fact” that southern cooking came from the white homes in the southern part of the US. It was also believed that the African Americans who cooked in these homes were “uncreative” and merely copied the recipes that they were taught. Furthermore, we are told that these recipes are unhealthy, lead to obesity, and should not be replicated in today’s “healthier” homes. Yeah, right.

I was raised in the south and love southern food. However, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that white southern women did none of their cooking well into the latter part of the 20th century. Our grandmothers, great aunts, great grandmothers had “help,” if not outright slaves who did their cooking and cleaning for them. As a result, nearly all of the recipes that today are considered “southern” by cooks in the south, actually originated by African slaves and Creoles living in the south. Cornbread, fried fish, waffles, grits, black-eyed peas, “southern” fried chicken and biscuits – all were originated by African Americans. Furthermore, in order for white southerners to take credit for these recipes and fine cooking, they suppressed the cookbooks that these African American chefs had printed.

Interestingly, I was raised in Arkansas, home to Bill Clinton. While governor there, he boasted about the great food that was served at the Governor’s Mansion. For years, it was assumed that the chef at the mansion was a world renown chef. It turns out that for nearly a half century the food was prepared by a marvelous chef name Eliza Ashley. She had cooked for presidents, the Rockefellers, dignitaries and movie stars but until the 1980s, she received no credit as being the chef behind the delectable food. The Jemima Code is filled with similar stories and it is tragic. To completely “white-wash” the contributions made by these cooks is egregious. Thanks to Tipton-Martin, we now are able to see just how pervasive this cover up was.

I highly recommend reading The Jemima Code for its historical contribution to our heritage.

Thank you to @ToniTipton Martin, #Netgalley and the University of Texas Press for my copy of this fabulous book! And now I am off to put on a pot of black eyed peas and bake up a pan of cornbread. Yummy!

 

Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary- Banned Book Week

It’s banned book week – a week in the US where we celebrate the beauty and truth in the books that others found controversial. There are few American authors, in recent years, who has been questioned and banned more often in our schools than Howard Zinn.

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Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary is a compilation of entries from Zinn’s journal  that he wrote while he was teaching at Spelman College in Georgia during the winter/spring of 1963-64. This is, of course, during the rising strength of the Civil Rights Movement with Georgia being at the hub of the student activism. Being an activist himself, his years at the college allowed him a closeness to the student activists across Georgia and, ultimately, the south. While Zinn wrote about his time at Spelman in a previous publication, it was only after his death when his papers were opened and released that his journal was discovered. Through his writings, one can see how Zinn was instrumental in bringing about legal social change that he had hoped would lead to a different mindset regarding racial interaction and racism as a whole.

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In truth, Howard Zinn is one of my favorite authors. There are few of his works that I haven’t read. His book, A People’s History of US, was and still is a mainstay in our home and was used to teach US history in our homeschool. It is often banned in schools when parents discover that it is a truthful account of this nation’s very sordid history rather than simply perpetuating the  myths with which Americans have been indoctrinated by the white elite. His writings always are an unvarnished, well documented commentary on our nation and its people and this diary certainly is no different. It is a tough, truthful look at the deep south and the struggle for African Americans to gain the freedoms that all Americans should enjoy without question. It is a personal account of the protests, marches and sit-ins that were occurring during this time. Having lived through this period and later as a protestor who has campaigned for equal rights for all, it was especially interesting to see our experiences retold. However, the message throughout his book is this: the struggle has not ended, racism in America still is rampant and, sadly, it is growing in fervor once again.

If there is one point that I want to convey in this review it is this: this is not your average non-fiction book, none of Zinn’s books are that. They are written with the average person in mind, they are readable and always they are eye opening and enlightening.

I highly encourage you to read Howard Zinn’s Southern Diary and afterward to pick up a copy of A People’s History of the US. I guarantee you that you will be shocked and will understand why educators are fighting to have it taught in their schools and, conversely, whey the anti-intellectuals do not want it there at all. It is a great read for Banned Book Week 2018.

Huge appreciation to the University of Georgia Press, #RobertCohen and #Edelweiss for my review copy of this amazing book!

The Assassination of Robert F Kennedy: Crime, Conspiracy and Cover-Up by Tim Tate and Brad Johnson

In 1968, Robert F Kennedy was elected as the Democratic party’s presidential candidate. Immediately afterward, he was shot and killed in the kitchen of the California hotel in which he was staying. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian, was arrested and convicted – but the story doesn’t end there. 

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Tim Tate, an investigative journalist and documentarian, along with Brad Johnson, an award winning writer and producer, could not accept the government’s account of the events of that fateful day, a day which transformed the very fabric of our nation.

1968 was a volatile time in American history: civil rights marches, feminist marches, the murder of Martin Luther King; the nation was being torn apart at the seams. The calm in this storm, often, was Robert Kennedy – Bobby – the younger brother to JFK, former Attorney General and darling of the Democratic Party. His murder and the subsequent government inquiries shocked the American people to their core. Sirhan Sirhan, a Syrian nationalist, immediately was taken into custody, charged and convicted of the crime. He has not, however, waivered through the years regarding his innocence.

Before this book was written, RFK, Jr, Bobby’s son, met with Sirhan Sirhan – alone – for hours, just the two of them talking.  Attorney RFK, Jr. asked pertinent questions as any attorney would do. RFK, Jr. came away convinced, without doubt, that Sirhan Sirhan did not fire the fatal shot into his father’s head. He is asking for a re-opening of the case.

As an historian and an admirer of the Kennedy family, I have read extensively about the family, each son, a few of the daughters and both assassinations – RFK and JFK. I know that while John was the flashier of the two brothers, Bobby was the reasonable, thoughtful, quiet one. I also have read Bobby’s journals during a mid-east visit that he and John took before JFK was elected. While JFK was “squishy” on mid-east matters, particularly on the Israel-Palestine issue, Bobby was steadfast in his support of Palestinian and Muslim rights. He wrote extensively regarding his doubts and questions pertaining to Israel’s policies against Palestine and Syria – and no, the Syrian problem is not a new thing, but rather was exacerbated during this time. Bobby supported Syria and the people there. Which begs the question, why would a Syrian kill the only presidential candidate who publicly supported their cause?

Aside from the political fall out that such an act would cause, the forensic evidence never has matched Sirhan Sirhan. In all of the photographs taken, Sirhan is standing in front of RFK when the shot was fired. This is well documented. Yet the bullet fired was to the back of Kennedy’s head. This alone should have raised doubts into the government inquiry, and for many it did. However, no amount of questioning would alter the government’s findings: Lone shooter, Sirhan Sirhan.

Tate and Johnson have conducted extensive research into all of the areas of this assassination and they have presented a well laid out, thoughtful review of the murder, arrest and subsequent inquiry. They concluded, as did RFK, Jr., that Sirhan Sirhan might have been complicit in the murder, but he was not the actual murderer. This does, of course, imply a conspiracy. While I don’t actually believe in conspiracies, as such, I do believe in government machinations and cover-ups. The US has thousands of government cover-ups on record now that once were considered “conspiracies” to the lay American. When governments lie in order to create war against innocent people, an inquiry into the death of a “bothersome” political candidate isn’t far-fetched at all. Remember, too, who ultimately went on to win that election and ask yourself, in retrospect, if he was a trustworthy man. Hardly.

In an interview with The Washington Post, as well as many other venues since, Robert Kennedy, Jr. has pointedly stated that Sirhan did not kill his father, that there had to been another gunman in the room and that a new investigation must be opened. I cannot think of a greater endorsement for this cause than his statement.

I already have admitted to being a Kennedy fanatic and, most likely, would have read this book regardless. It is, however, an excellent book, thoroughly researched and expertly written. The writing is so engrossing that I could not put it down until I turned the very last page – and then I went online to read more! It covers not only the assassination, but the tumultuous times surrounding it. It has been fifty years since this tragedy and it is past time that, as Americans, we address this issue.

I never have been more grateful to receive a book to review than I was this one! My appreciation to @TimTate and @BradJohnson, not only for the book but for their time spent on its research. Thank you, also, to Thistle Publishing Co. and #Netgalley for this opportunity.

 

To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment

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Like a true political junkie, I devoured Laurence Tribe’s books when I was at University. God Save This Honorable Court still is one of my favorite go-to books when I am castigating the current Supreme Court. Tribe’s knowledge on the US Constitution is without rival and it is exactly for that reason that I wanted to read this book. No one knows more than Tribe about the US Constitution, the role of the Supremes and the constitutionality of our government.

From the beginning of To End A Presidency, Tribe sets out his agenda: not to convince you of the need for impeachment or to dissuade you from desiring one, but rather to inform you of the constitutionality of an impeachment against the current office holder, the history of past impeachments and why they seldom, ever, are successful.

For those Americans who are calling for impeachment, and I definitely fall into this group, this is very good resource. Tribe explains exactly what would happen, how the framers of the Constitution knew this would happen and made a guideline for it and also cautions on the timing – it is a long arduous process.

The most chilling aspect of the book is the chapter on consequences. Not since the mid-1800s, prior to the US Civil War, has America been so sharply divided. Even then, the sheer hate for our fellow Americans was not as pronounced as it is now, nor was it daily exacerbated by the media. Should there be an impeachment of a president about whom the nation feels so strongly, there will be upheaval. Tribe cautions that, unlike in the past, this is a decision that should not be made lightly nor should Americans think that their troubles will be over once the current president is impeached. Given the current heightened emotional state of Americans, there will be riots and, quite possibly, another civil war/revolution. That is not to say that impeachment should not happen. America currently is nose-diving, hurling itself, toward Fascism and the loss of our Democratic-Republic form of government. Tribe earnestly suggests that Americans take long hard look at both sides: Fascism vs Revolution/War within our own borders. As for me, I know which side I’m on. Fascism is not an option – it never has been. It never will be – no matter what the cost.

Tribe is an excellent writer who does so in much the same way that he lectures. He is easy to understand and very engaging. I highly encourage ALL Americans to read To End a Presidency, be informed, know and understand what is at stake and, above all, to stop sticking your head in the sand, refusing to see what is happening in this country – on both sides.