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Randall Kennedy is a hard guy to figure. A few months ago, the former Rhodes scholar wrote an article for the Atlantic Monthly asserting why he felt no allegiance to the black community. The argument was full of typical conservative rhetoric, yet it somehow managed to become a major discussion topic for the black intelligentsia. Now that the former Harvard law professor has put out his book, Race, Crime, and the Law, you would expect it to be plush with rhetoric such as why we need more prisons and why the cocaine/crack ratio is fair. But Kennedy avoids and even condemns the flawed reasoning of liberals and conservatives alike, and it is his utterly unpredictable character and refusal to take sides that spikes the punch. Despite its spontaneity, Race, Crime, and the Law is thoroughly argued and researched and refuses to pander to the one-dimensional logic that both conservatives and liberals champion. In his section on the cocaine/crack discrepancy, Kennedy writes, “Maybe the crack-powder distinction and indeed, the entire war on drugs is mistaken. But even if these policies are misguided, being mistaken is different from being racist, and the difference is one that greatly matters.” Hear Kennedy’s spin at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)