MixedBooklistDespite the author’s best intentions, this book skews heavily toward abortion rights, sometimes giving short shrift to the broader and more inclusive vision of reproductive justice put forward by activists from marginalized communities. At the end of the book, Kornbluh wonders what might have been achieved if not for racism—a question white proponents of reproductive justice would do well to ponder in the post-Roe era.
RaveBooklistFar from being confined to the pages of history books, American racism is mapped out in our roads, in our churches, and in our cities, schools, and strip malls...Attorney and activist Khan, the daughter of Pakistani immigrants, weaves together her own coming-of-age with the stories of exclusion and violence that created the twelve American towns she has called home...The desire to settle in \'good neighborhoods\' speaks to a history of redlining and racial terrorism against Black homeowners; the exclusivity of the Ivy League recalls Princeton’s efforts to preserve American whiteness by resettling Black Americans in Africa; and the suspicious glares Khan receives on bus journeys in the Dakotas are a reminder of the ongoing violence and bigotry against Native people...The past is deeply, sometimes painfully, present in this honest and insightful book.
PositiveBooklistThe scientific career of Lindy Elkins-Tanton is impressive, even inspiring, but as her memoir reveals, her road into the world of science was a rocky one ... Rightly aware that the sciences are as much about people as data, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman covers its author’s prodigious scientific work alongside her traumatic background and her struggles to convince her institution to address the behavior of an abusive faculty member. The book’s honesty is not cynical, but rather sincerely optimistic, as Elkins-Tanton explores ways to create better, more inclusive disciplines through curiosity, generosity, and collaboration.
PositiveBooklist... paints a vividly disturbing picture of northern racism in the Gilded Age, reminding readers of the pervasiveness of anti-Black terrorism and its lethal consequences for Black Americans.
Nyle DiMarco with Robert Siebert
PositiveBooklistDeaf Utopia is generous to its hearing readers, offering patient insights into Deaf culture and history, and it takes the unique step of conveying ASL conversations that employ the grammar and rhythms of ASL as far as possible, rather than finding near equivalents in spoken English. This joyful memoir celebrates DiMarco’s ambition and adaptability, his journey to understand his queerness, and the vibrant Deaf community that made him who he is.
Zain E Asher
PositiveBooklistAt its heart, Where the Children Take Us is a love letter to the author’s mother, in all her strength and determination.
RaveBooklistPortrayals of these women frequently fall along predictable, usually condemnatory lines—Medea the unnatural mother, Helen the ultimate femme fatale. Haynes complicates these narratives, diving into the historical and literary records ... Packed with wry humor and scholarly insight, Pandora’s Jar shines a new light on our oldest stories, illuminating its subjects in all their painful complexity.
RaveBooklistProfit and Punishment is persuasive and enraging, a book that will stir readers from both sides of the aisle to support reform.
Kyle T. Mays
RaveBooklistThe latest installment in Beacon Press’s superb ReVisioning History series emphasizes solidarity, intersectionality, and the indigenous identities of both Native and African Americans. The book avoids retreading ground already covered by others in the series ... He is unflinching in his critique of Black and Indigenous scholars and activists whose work undermined, rather than enhanced, solidarity between their communities. The book’s central question is how Black and Indigenous people can find common purpose with each other to oppose the unjust structures that form the backbone of American government and society. Nuanced and illuminating, this book is a worthy addition to a remarkable series.
PositiveBooklistComics and music critic Wolk brings an insightful and affectionate eye to this cultural behemoth as he catalogs the long and winding road Marvel superheroes have followed over the years. Wolk makes no attempt to capture the full breadth and depth of the Marvel comics universe, a task that would be both impossible (for Wolk) and near incomprehensible (for readers). Instead, he dedicates chapters to the superheroes, creative partnerships, events, and idiosyncrasies that have made Marvel what it is, from the familiar (Black Panther, the X-Men) and the justly or unjustly forgotten (Master of Kung-Fu, Linda Carter). The result is an affectionate, lively, charmingly footnoted whistle-stop tour through Marvel Comics that acknowledges the many places where the comics stumble as well as the many where they shine. Wolk is unwavering in his belief that comics are for everyone, and he offers numerous jumping-on points for new readers. Every comics fan needs this book.
Keisha N. Blain
RaveBooklistAlthough Blain occasionally neglects to situate Hamer’s ideas in the broader context of her time, the author’s rightful and infectious admiration of Hamer shines through on every page. Until I Am Free is a must-have for readers interested in American history and civil rights activism.
PositiveBooklistHenning brings to bear a wealth of scholarship as well as her decades of legal experience defending DC-area youth ... This timely and necessary book pairs exhaustively researched documentation with heartbreaking stories of Black youth caught up in the justice system for quotidian, non-dangerous mistakes.
PositiveBooklist... paints a vivid and compassionate picture of a metropolis struggling with poverty, ethnic tensions, corruption, and the scars of colonialism.
PositiveBooklist... a methodical and damning catalogue of how the highest court in the land has chosen to empower police forces at the expense of suspects, bystanders, and justice itself.
RaveBooklistZakaria lays out the damage white feminism has wrought in clear, unflinching terms and urges readers to commit to a feminism that is truly collective and global.
PositiveBooklistUsing examples from the author’s personal experience of witnessing these dynamics in progressive spaces, the book carefully delineates manifestations of white progressive racism and breaks down the reasons they are problematic and how to do better ... Nice Racism offers a road map for white liberals to understand their role in upholding white supremacy, and the tools for those liberals to know and do better ... White Fragility became a best-seller and appeared on many antiracism reading lists; order DiAngelo’s timely follow-up accordingly.
M Leona Godin
PositiveBooklistGodin makes a passionate argument for placing blind people at the center of their own stories. She delves into the metaphorical, biological, and societal aspects of blindness, drawing not just from history and literature but from her own experience of becoming blind over the course of her life. This book is an insightful and wide-ranging book that asks sighted readers to examine the myriad ways in which our culture uses concepts of blindness as metaphor or morality tale while simultaneously ignoring the existence, insights, and experiences of blind people. Even in its lapses—Godin says little, for instance, about how race, ethnicity, or sexuality inflect blind experience, representation, or community—There Plant Eyes speaks eloquently and urgently to the necessity of making space for blind thinkers within our ocular-centric world.
PositiveBooklistStrauss learned of this story from one of the women, her great-aunt Hélène Podliasky, and spent years tracking down more information about the group of women who followed Hélène to freedom. The result is an intimate narrative tale of resilience, survival, and friendship. Time and again these women found themselves at terrible risk, but through their devotion to each other, the assistance of strangers (some motivated by kindness or guilt, others hoping for amnesty from the triumphant Allied forces), and just enough luck, they were able to survive the brutal deprivations of Nazi Germany ... a chilling reminder of the horrors of the concentration camps, but also a moving testament to the power of friendship.
PositiveBooklist... careful and balanced ... Booth explores the progression of Bell’s career with compassion and nuance, eliding neither his good intentions nor the lasting harm that his emphasis on orality wrought on generations of D/deaf students.
PositiveBooklistIn part because Freedlander is focusing on disappointed Sanders supporters, much of the book focuses on white male activists, with Ocasio-Cortez as the notable exception. However, this book does offer thoughtful insight into a much-maligned branch of liberal thought, and it will appeal to politically inclined readers hoping for change.
John Woodrow Cox
RaveBooklistChildren Under Fire illustrates the devastating, long-term effects of gun violence on children who lose loved ones. Washington Post reporter Cox dutifully shares gun-control statistics that have become wearily familiar, but he also zooms in to examine the personal impact of gun violence on a few specific kids. By some measures, the traumas suffered by the children Cox profiles are fairly (and horrifyingly) mundane, the kind of small-scale gun violence that doesn’t get national headlines. Yet children like Ava and Tyshaun will be grappling with the emotional fallout for the rest of their lives, and their experiences are mirrored by hundreds of thousands of other kids across the country. Children Under Fire is a difficult but important book, refusing to allow its readers to look away from the true human cost of America’s continued failure to protect its children from gun violence.
RaveBooklistIn this powerful collection of interlinked essays, Cowlitz writer Washuta (My Body Is a Book of Rules, 2014) explores the inescapable presence of colonization and other traumas as they circle through and around her romantic relationships, her Native identity, and even the pop culture she consumes ... Washuta’s essays refuse the mandate of a tidy resolution ... White Magic is an insightful, surprising, and eloquent record of stories of magic and the magic in stories.
RaveBooklistOwusu’s dispatches from the trenches of what she calls madness are brutally metaphoric, elegantly honest, and familiar to readers with similar experiences ... Aftershocks is a stunning, visceral book about the ways that our stories—of loss, of love, of borders—leave permanent marks on our bodies and minds.
Mychal Denzel Smith
RaveBooklistJournalist Smith (Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching, 2016) takes on the failure and possibility of the American dream in this slim, impactful book. While Stakes Is High begins with Donald Trump’s election, Smith makes it clear that Trump is a symptom of a bigger disease: the belief in an America whose ideals set it apart from other countries, an America in which hard work ensures success, an America that offers liberty and justice for all. ... Stakes Is High is a polemic in the best sense of the word, holding up a mirror to America in the hope that a clear-eyed glimpse of its failings will assist in the never-ending struggle to bring about the righteous nation it has always aspired to be.
PositiveBooklistOluo persuasively argues that the result of leaving power in the hands of men like Cody and Preston is not equal, fair, or even advantageous. Mediocre is an eloquent and impassioned plea for the moral and practical value of pursuing a more just future.
PositiveBooklistAt times the book’s ambition is more hindrance than help, as Gosden bewilderingly dedicates a single chapter to three continents while electing not to discuss South Asian magic at all. Despite such gaps in the story, Magic is an authoritative history of humanity’s engagement with the supernatural.
PositiveBooklistIn this compelling and inspiring book, Levenstein ensures that the feminist groups of the nineties will take their rightful place in women’s history.
PositiveBooklistThe ballot victory in the 2018 election was the culmination of many years’ hard work, and Meade speaks with affection and admiration of the many allies who made it possible. Though an epilogue acknowledges the political efforts to hollow out the rights of returning citizens, this is nevertheless a moving and triumphant story of how ordinary citizens can make a difference.
RaveBooklistWith a keen eye to intersectional ace experiences, Ace begins to unpack the ways in which our society posits sexual desire as both normal and compulsory, a narrative that leaves little room for the lives of asexuals. Chen recognizes the complexity of these conversations ... Ace is a necessary and thoughtful book that accessibly communicates a wide array of ace experiences.
PositiveBooklist... deeply researched ... Meticulously sourced and careful to prioritize the perspectives of the marginalized, Blood on the River offers a fascinating glimpse of the complex history of slavery in the Americas.
Lesley M. M. Blume
PositiveBooklistThough the story of Fallout is rather slight—Hersey and his New Yorker editors faced little opposition and few consequences—it is engagingly told and painstakingly researched, with an unerring eye for the vivid detail that brings to life postwar society and the stakes of making the world understand the true horror of nuclear fallout. Blume’s history will remind readers of the vital role the fourth estate plays in upholding American ideals
PositiveBooklistResearcher and activist Scott examines how male financial domination holds back economic growth, assembling a breathtaking array of data and case studies from settings as disparate as rural Ugandan schools and the board rooms of venture capitalists ... As the book’s title signals, Scott sometimes falls into the trap of gender essentialism, and she gives little consideration to the impact of intersectional oppression, particularly in developed nations. Despite these flaws, The Double X Economy is a thorough, authoritative rebuke to the sexist exclusion of women from financial systems across the world.
Ed. by Annie Finch
RaveBooklist... [a] moving collection ... the pieces in Choice Words eloquently explore the emotions, circumstances, and desires involved in abortions ... the book neither celebrates nor condemns abortion, choosing instead to represent the complex tapestry of legal, social, and personal pressures that influence the decision to bear, or not bear, a child. While the collection skews—perhaps inevitably—to modern, Western experiences of abortion, Finch has clearly worked to incorporate a multiplicity of voices spanning the boundaries of era and nationality. Choice Words is a landmark anthology of writing about abortion that gives weight and dignity to all sides and experiences of this controversial issue.
Vivek H. Murthy
PositiveBooklist... surprising ... Together resists the temptation to romanticize the past, recognizing that many close-knit communities can be suffocating to people who don’t conform to a narrow, limiting set of ideals. Drawing from real-life initiatives across the world, Murthy offers a road map to a future that is less stifling than a purely collectivist culture and less isolating than an individualistic one, in which kindness and care for others become the reigning principles of American society. This book is a welcome tonic for an increasingly divided country.
PositiveBooklist... takes the reader on a lively tour of the best and worst of nutritional epidemiology ... Though occasionally unfocused, Ingredients employs a lighthearted tone and approachable language to enlighten even the least science-inclined reader on the strengths and pitfalls of the science that tells us what’s best for our bodies.
PositiveBooklistThe result is as engrossing as a mystery novel. Vinocour uncovers the numerous points at which the social safety net might have helped Dunn and even saved Raymie’s life, but failed to do so due to prejudice, apathy, and underfunding. While it’s clear that Vinocour is an experienced, compassionate professional, she uses some dehumanizing language about Dunn and other people with mental disabilities...Despite these failings, Nobody’s Child is an eloquent indictment of a legal system that makes little accommodation for the mentally ill, particularly those—like Dunn—who are already at a disadvantage based on skin color or socioeconomic status.
Nathan Raab, with Luke Barr
PositiveBooklistThough Raab is an avid history buff with a wide range of expertise, he sometimes oversimplifies American history for the reader, as his admiration for American presidents leads him to gloss over many of their well-known misdeeds. Nevertheless, his book is a fascinating glimpse at the day-to-day operations of an unusual profession, and Raab’s exploits will delight lovers of history like himself.
PositiveBooklistMaher offers a nuanced portrait of Baloch in the many roles she tried and discarded over the course of her short life ... This compassionate and careful book offers a vivid depiction of traditional values clashing with modern moral atmospheres to form Pakistan’s rapidly changing online and social landscapes.
PositiveBooklistRavitch...explores the promises and failures of the charter school movement in this passionate polemic ... [a] well-sourced account ... With a strong balance of big-picture statistics with local case studies, Slaying Goliath will inform and energize readers interested in improving public education.
PositiveBooklisthis book is an engaging and informative reminder of the sun’s centrality to human evolution, biology, and daily life.
PositiveBooklist... deftly chronicled ... Eastman’s work and its challenges feel sharply relevant to today’s changing world, and this engaging and careful biography will appeal to activists and students of history alike.
Anne Sverdrup-Thygeson, Trans. Lucy Moffat
PositiveBooklistSverdrup-Thygeson, a professor at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, offers a lively introduction to the six-legged creatures that share our planet, while making the case that their survival is inextricably linked to ours. The author possesses an infectious enthusiasm for the bugs she profiles and manages to imbue every maxilla and mating habit with wonder ... Ably translated by Moffatt, Buzz, Sting, Bite will foster affection for its winged, creeping, and crawling subjects, even among its most bug-shy readers.
RaveBooklist... clever, informative, and unexpectedly charming ... Schlossberg is careful to remind readers that we’re all in this (planet) together ... Though the subject matter is bleak, Schlossberg takes care to emphasize that while individual choices matter, governmental and corporate transparency matters much, much more. To halt the climate crisis, we must first understand the many factors that create and sustain it, and this book offers the tools for that understanding. The author breaks complex issues down to be understandable to the lay reader, while her humor and wit ensure that readers will close the book feeling energized rather than hopeless.
PositiveBooklistJournalist Blum...breaks down the near-unimaginable complexity of the weather forecasting system into its component parts ... Though readers may occasionally get lost in a sea of acronyms, Blum most often manages to draw clear lines between theory and practice. This is a lucid and approachable guide to the satellites, scientists, and supercomputers that make up the forecasting system we so often take for granted.