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What Next: A Memoir Toward World Peace [Hardcover]

Walter Mosley
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 29 2003
Mosley, like many New Yorkers, has tried to make sense of the events of 9/11 - and his own reaction to them. He remembered his father's stories about World War II and how he didn't think of himself as an American until German soldiers shot at him. How did he feel - and how did African Americans feel - about the unfolding debate of what brought America to this tragic juncture. Was the displacement his father felt, a half century ago, still a part of this new generations' experience?

In What Next, Mosley addresses these questions and others, inviting the reader into a dialogue that is brilliantly argued, and poetically concise. What Next offers food for thought and is a call to action for African Americans and freedom loving people everywhere.

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From Publishers Weekly

This impassioned essay urges black Americans to take the lead in shaping America's response to the September 11 attacks. Mosley, author of the Easy Rawlins mystery series, puts forth a radical critique of U.S. foreign policy, recalling U.S. interventions in Indochina, Central America and the Middle East to assert that America often acts as a "pillager-nation" concerned more with corporate profits and cheap oil than with democracy and human rights; Arab antipathy towards the U.S. is thus more a response to U.S. economic imperialism than to religious or cultural antagonisms. Drawing on memories of his father's struggle against racism, he argues that blacks' experience of racial injustice in the United States obligates them to sympathize with oppressed peoples elsewhere and to understand (although Mosley does not condone) the murderous rage directed at America by many in the Muslim world. He exhorts blacks to take the lead in resisting the current militaristic response to terrorism and to demand that America harmonize its foreign policy with its humanitarian ideals and with the interests of the downtrodden "from Africa to Afghanistan." Interweaving the personal and the polemical, Mosley aims to shock readers out of their moral complacency; "It is up to me," he writes, "to make sure that my dark-skinned brothers and sisters around the world...are not enslaved, vilified, and raped by my desire to eat cornflakes or take a drive." Although his exclusive focus on economic motives somewhat oversimplifies U.S. foreign policy, he raises a compelling and eloquent challenge to America's role in the world.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Mosley, noted for his Easy Rawling mysteries set in black Los Angeles from the 1940s to the 1960s, draws from the roots of his folk experience to challenge black Americans to do their part for world peace. He notes the lack of black engagement or dialogue since 9/11 and asserts that such is a loss for all Americans, if not the world. Mosley draws on the folk wisdom and struggle of his father and grandfather's generations, who came to know a sense of Americanness and freedom denied to previous generations. Mosely argues that it is, in fact, the profound awareness of this nation's flaws that sustains an African American consciousness and provides a more complete perspective that is missing in the American narrative. The black experience of the terror of lynching, Jim Crow, and slavery are experiences to which most of white America is blind. Yet African Americans have lived with a sense of hope and faith in American ideals. Mosley believes that African Americans' sharing this experience benefits the nation and the prospects for world peace. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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3.0 out of 5 stars REFLECTION ON PEACE May 25 2003
Walter Mosley is one who moves beyond the tag of being a mystery writer. In this slender volume he shares his reflections and thoughts on how to achieve world peace.According to Mosley African-Americans hold the key in achieving world peace due to their unique experience in America.
How does Mosley get to this idea? He shares with us a story told to him by his father. LeRoy Mosley shares his epiphany of being an American through his World War II experience. He states, "It was the Germans and the Americans who were at war... I didn't know I was an American until they ( the Germans) started shooting at me." The senior Mosley reveals the paradox of being Black in America. Blacks are seen as outsiders by the majority population but those who are America's enemies don't make a distinction between Black and White. Regardless of ethnicity, Americans are seen as the enemy.
Using his father's story as the launching point, Mosley looks at the events of September 11th and sees that blacks are identified with the oppressor even if they are considered outsiders. Since Blacks occupy a precarious position in the society they can understand the anger of the enemy. As Americans Blacks can no longer remain silent about world affairs. They must become key players for America's fate is tied to African-Americans.
Mosley calls for grassroots organization, the utilization of the media and political action in order for African-Americans to engage America in promoting piece. You don't have to be a political science major to realize the need for such actions. Mosley has some good thoughts but he rambles and at times you wonder how he got from point A to point B.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading... April 16 2003
WHAT NEXT is a slim book that is chock full of large, common sense ideas about how world peace can be achieved. Walter Mosley starts off with a scene from his life. His father is explaining to him that he had never felt like an American even though he was fighting for America in the Second World War until he realized that the Germans were actually shooting at him. That must make him a real American. Finding that he could not live among people in the South who could not accept what he had become under fire, he left the South for Los Angeles.
Mr. Mosley gives us an idea of the perceptions of African Americans, being careful to note that African Americans do see themselves as Americans, they do not want to leave this country, nor do they wish to abandon its ideals of freedom. African Americans are aware of the pitfalls of unevenly applied laws and philosophies and they have never had the luxury of self-deception but they are still willing to work to make this country a better place.
He outlines several simple solutions to working for world peace. One such idea is getting several people into study groups. Each person takes a different aspect of the news and reports on it to the group. That way, everyone will have a wide range of knowledge about what is going on in the world without being burdened with searching out every detail for themselves. He feels that African Americans can use their many experiences to improve the world.
It is a book well worth reading and everyone, not just African Americans, would find it beneficial.
Reviewed by Alice Holman
of The RAWSISTAZ Reviewers
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Message That Is Not Just For African Americans March 22 2003
Walter Mosley's monograph What Next is an impassioned call to African Americans to use their collective experience and history to move this country and the world towards being a more peaceful place. Mosley uses his own history with his father as a jumping off point to help him sort out his feelings towards 9/11, the war on terrorism, and [what was then the impending] war with Iraq. In writing this monograph, Mosley is letting us in on his ruminations. And what wise ruminations they are. Even though I didn't always totally agree with Mosley and even though I'm not African American, I found a lot of good points to think about in this short, but thoughtful book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Great intentions May 10 2003
Very readable, but ultimately not very fulfilling. Mr. Mosley has lofty goals in this monograph which sets out to promote movement towards world peace. His stories are interesting and unique, but his prescription doesn't add much to the dialogue on issues of racism and violence.
Mr. Mosley says he is going to provide direction for real action, but his suggestions are vague and, sometimes, cliche. This is a very quick read, so I feel comfortable recommending it. If you are looking for insightful commentary and are willing to spend time reading it, I would suggest you look elsewhere.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mosley call us to think, to speak, and to act. July 12 2003
The gift of the George W. Bush presidency is a wake up call. With What Next, Walter Mosley contributes beautifully and practically to that awakening. Written in a readable voice that is like having a long cup of coffee with Mr. Mosley, this book needs to be spread far and wide --- not just for his specific thoughts and ideas, but also for the inspiration it provides for us all to think for ourselves rather than simply accepting what we are spoon fed.
Buy several copies and help spread the word.
- Thom Rutledge, author of Embracing Fear (HarperSanFrancisco)
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