PositivePublisher\'s WeeklyDespite \'the many troubles with central planning, the massive human costs of the collectivization of agriculture, and the brutal decades of Stalinist rule,\' the Soviet Union made considerable advances: life expectancy and literacy rates increased significantly and infant mortality decreased significantly...These developments may not seem important to people who have always been confident their children will survive childhood and learn to read, but they illustrate what could be achieved...The five women Ghodsee represents attempted to use the possibilities of the new state to overturn long-standing injustices...They were not wrong to do so just because they were sometimes defeated; the big battalions are always on the side of the established order...Their ideas and actions not only deserve recognition but serious critical attention...Red Valkyries is a compelling book, a call for a broader understanding of the history of women’s political practice, the ideas that informed it, and its implications for our own time...It reminds us that there were always loftier goals than getting more women into middle and upper corporate management.
PositiveThe Chicago Review of Books... generous in giving people credit for what they did achieve, even when their contribution were uneven ... Wright is particularly attentive to the disproportionate impact of the disease on people of color...His analyses of these disparities are sometimes insufficiently integrated with other elements of the text, which is frustrating as the object is to demonstrate the centrality of race to American society, but he does trace the historical foundations of differences in infection and mortality rates rather than just describing them. A more explicit discussion of class would have strengthened his argument but his emphasis on the fact that social and economic precarity substantially increased the risk from COVID-19 still demonstrates that the crisis required a political as well as a scientific response ... The speed of its composition sometimes shows in its structure and even its prose ... Despite being slightly uneven, the book is a valuable, readable early contribution to what will inevitably become a substantial body of work on the pandemic. Wright secured remarkable access to key figures in the scientific, medical, and political communities, and provides a compelling account of the complexities of COVID-19, the struggle to contain it, and the search for a vaccine. It is important to recognize the scientists, doctors, nurses, and other essential workers who did their jobs under dangerous conditions, and to expose those politicians and advisors who, from positions of relative safety, did not. The Plague Year is to be commended for both its compassion and its anger.