RaveBookPageKerri K. Greenidge complicates the accepted history of the abolitionist Grimke sisters with the full, complex story of their Black and white relatives ... Provocative and well-written.
PositiveBookPagebrings to light a truly extraordinary example of humanity at its best and worst in a country at war, sometimes with itself ... With copious and often heart-wrenching detail ... It is a cautionary yet inspiring tale, one that bears remembering.
Daniella Mestyanek Young
RaveBookPageAs hard as it is to absorb the grotesque details of her childhood, so unflinchingly disclosed, reading about Mestyanek Young’s life after leaving the cult behind is no easier on the heart ... Mestyanek Young ponders not the differences between these two groups—God’s Army and the U.S. Army—but their similarities. Uncultured vividly cautions readers to choose a group in which you can be yourself—and be free.
RaveBookPageBy interviewing the people who were most affected when South Africa dismantled its white supremacist institutions, Fairbanks marries the overarching story the country\'s turbulent apartheid history with Black and white individuals\' intimate experiences before and after 1994, when so much—and so little—changed ... As Fairbanks vividly demonstrates, South Africa\'s complicated past continues to define the lives of Black Africans, white Afrikaners and immigrants from formerly colonized African countries such as Mozambique and Angola. The Inheritors covers a lot of ground, capturing Black heroes like Nelson Mandela and Steve Biko, as well as castigated white politicians like Frederik Willem de Klerk. She also examines how the rest of the world has handled racism and colonialism before and after 1994, including Angola\'s own liberation in 1975 and the ongoing turmoil in 21st-century America. Glimmering throughout is the humanity she manages to find in all of it ... There are lessons here for readers the world over, especially as South Africa joins the global marketplace and as the U.S. continues to grapple with the human cost of racism. Fairbanks compels us to pay attention, learn and, above all, care.
Ingrid Rojas Contreras
RaveBookPageEnthralling ... In her deftly woven memoir, she makes this history more immediate and personal, with prose that in itself is enchantingly poetic.
PositiveBookPage... exhaustive ... captures a game-changing cultural moment during the tumultuous years of the Gilded Age ... colorfully detailed ... In White’s hands, this slice of history is as entertaining as it is enlightening.
RaveBookPage... insightful ... a necessary, judicious correction to previously published accounts ... Emberton’s attention to detail, whether she’s describing an inept FWP interviewer, an intimidated storyteller or the heavy-handed project editor, succeeds in debunking any nostalgia attached to the \'Lost Cause\' of the Confederacy.
RaveBookPageThanks to this richly detailed story well told by historian Candice Millard, a colorful and controversial chapter in world history resurfaces ... Millard...among others, introduces a cast of characters and succeeds in making each of them unforgettable ... Millard excels at describing it all, balancing narrative flow with abundant details that give a vast landscape its weight and power, clarify complicated people and arduous journeys, and add those who have gone largely unseen to the historical stage. Take, for example, such memorable details as a beetle burrowing into Speke’s ear; the thieves, deserters and raiders thwarting these yearslong expeditions; diseases and infections leading to blindness, deafness and death; the hardships of Bombay, who was once traded for cloth; and two huge, breathtakingly beautiful lakes, one of which, it was finally proven, spawned the Nile.
PositiveBookPageGarbes swoops from the universal to the personal to the downright intimate, offering an all-encompassing vision of a more socially and economically just way of caring for one another that, de facto, would improve our individual and collective lives ... There is a great deal to digest here, and Garbes’ analyses will certainly resonate with people whose caregiving responsibilities increased during the pandemic. Yet by identifying the inherent power of mothering as a force for change, Garbes makes her message relevant to a broader audience. Indeed, as Essential Labor makes clear, all our fates are intertwined.
RaveBookPageThey fully reveal a complex and at times controversial life ... An intimate portrait of the iconic writer, human rights activist, philanthropist and womanist—a term Walker herself coined to describe Black feminists ... Gathering Blossoms Under Fire...contains copious, intimate details about her life. And as with all of Walker’s writings, the stories found in these pages are beautifully told.
A E Rooks
PositiveBookPageA.E. Rooks adds global and historical context to the travesties and tragedies that took place along the coast of West Africa in the 1800s. A versatile, accomplished scholar, and two-time Jeopardy! champion, Rooks introduces a cast of ambitious commanders, insensitive rulers and policymakers, heroic ship captains, beleaguered sailors and heartless enslavers ... Rooks greatly enlarges the context of the Black Joke’s legendary four-year run, delving into the maritime, economic and political issues of the day ... Rooks accumulates these daunting details with a wry but respectful touch. Her occasional wit, perhaps incongruous given the dire events she relates, may be her way of reminding us of our common humanity, still present even amid inhumane conditions.
Keisha N. Blain
PositiveBookPageHistorian Keisha N. Blain’s extensively researched chronicle Until I Am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America ensures that Hamer’s story—and her lessons for activists—will live on ... As readers take in Hamer’s life story throughout this rallying cry of a book, they will find that her message still resounds today: \'You are not free whether you are white or black, until I am free.\'
RaveBookPageVisiting the cities Washington once rode through on his white horse, or paraded through in a cream-colored carriage with two enslaved postillions, or strode into wearing a simple brown suit (the new president had a feel for political theater), Philbrick delivers the details ... Philbrick keeps one foot in, and a respectful perspective on, the present throughout, assessing hazards then...and now ... With Travels With George, he succeeds again ... Washington emerges as the complicated, flawed but no less heroic leader that his newborn country desperately needed. The quantity and quality of the details Philbrick gathers as he straddles past and present make this an extraordinary read.
RaveBookPageLike the 12 essays in Don’t Let It Get You Down: Essays on Race, Gender, and the Body, Savala Nolan is powerful and complex ... Like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, written as a letter to his son, Nolan’s essays speak to both young and old Americans about our country’s pervasive history of racism.
RaveBookPage... intimate, endearing ... García’s notes, acutely observational, are simultaneously infused with love, respect and the pain of loss ... García frets about crossing lines that might leave his parents helplessly exposed. Still, from his dying father’s bedside in Mexico City to his last moment with his mother (shared digitally, as COVID-19 prevented him from traveling), García is a guardian of their dignity ... Yet this memoir’s details are indeed intimate ... Fittingly, García begins each chapter with an excerpt from one of his father’s works, and it’s this connection between life and art that holds this intense memoir together.
RaveBookPage... [Henderson] renders her family with searing honesty and wit ... she brings them to life with her indefatigable sense of humor, which is as quick and sharp as the violence she lived with as a child ... Henderson opts for mirth over pathos, and the results are often shocking and funny simultaneously ... Her unflinchingly honest voice especially shines through when treading softly around the sexual abuse she endured.
RaveBookPageNot far into [Sentilles\'s] heart-searing memoir, Stranger Care: A Memoir of Loving What Isn’t Ours, the complications begin ... If Stranger Care were merely a horrific indictment of the foster care system, it would be a hard read to endure. But there are deeper lessons here, as Sentilles navigates an intractable system managed by overwhelmed, all-too-human souls ... With a sharp eye for the details that fill their days with joy, counterweighted by the sorrows that bring the couple to their knees, Sentilles uses the sheer power of her writing to lift their story above the failures of flawed adults and to remind us of the human heart’s limitless capacity for hope.
PositiveBookPageBooth vigorously revises the historical record ... Booth reveals a rich history of heights and depths in The Invention of Miracles, including the questionable patent process that secured Bell’s name in history, the evolution and empowerment of the Deaf community, and Bell’s endearing marriage, which survived his own misguided intentions.
PositiveBookPageIt’s awful stuff, but with Telfer at the wheel, reading these tales of plunder—littered with diamonds, fancy cars, mansions, booze and furs—is a fun, spicy romp ... As Telfer stuffs the stories of these grifters, drifters, spiritualists and fabulists in mesmerizing detail, she more than succeeds in giving them their due. But, she warns, make no mistake about the damage they left in their wake. Confident Women is also a dark cautionary tale about the fragile nature of trust and why we choose to believe.
RaveBookPageRichly researched and told through the vibrant voices of the comics themselves, Kliph Nesteroff’s extraordinary We Had a Little Real Estate Problem chronicles a legacy deserving of inclusion in the history of comedy in the U.S. and Canada.
Gayle Tzemach Lemmon
PositiveBookPageBased on hours of on-the-ground reporting and countless interviews with Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighters, Lemmon delivers a vivid, street-by-bombed-out-street account of the final days of the battle for Kobani.
PositiveBookpage[Colapinto] diligently delivers his newfound knowledge and hard-earned perspective, aided by an exhaustive lineup of scholars, scientists, historians, physicians and voice artists. From Cicero to rock stars to demagogues to opera divas to newborns, Colapinto learns, enlightens and entertains ... Our voices gives life and meaning to our words—and as humans, Colapinto says, we do crave meaning. This is an intensely researched compilation that includes evolution, history, politics and competing scientific theories, launched by Colapinto’s personal struggle to save his voice. Fact-heavy yet digestible, This Is the Voice requires time and attention to absorb, but it’s worth it.
Catherine Grace Katz
RaveBookPageThe Daughters of Yalta ... is a splendid, colorful tapestry of details, as witnessed by three smart young women making the most of their extraordinary moment in history.
RaveBookPageDrilling down into the second-largest school district in the country to shine an intimate light on a few senior boys in two very different high schools would have been a daunting task in less capable hands...Hobbs does it so well that these soon-to-be men may be forever cast in the amber of their adolescence: slightly familiar from the start and, finally, utterly unforgettable ... How they each arrived at this pivotal point in their lives may not predict what happens next, but it is our privilege, thanks to Hobbs, to follow them. Readers will come to care deeply about these students’ journeys.
PositiveBookPage... digs deep into a cultural and political history as complex as Roosevelt himself. Insightful, observant and wry, writing with his heart on his well-traveled sleeve and a laser focus on the stunning beauty of the parks, Gessner shares an epic road trip through these storied lands ... Weaving an often candidly critical biography of the 26th president through this account of the parks he created, Gessner eventually arrives at Bears Ears in southeastern Utah.
Jessica J. Lee
PositiveBookPageLee finds her own ways of imprinting her rediscovered homeland on her spirit. Using her skills as a scholar, she identifies the many species she finds as she hikes and bikes through the countryside, some existing nowhere else in the world. As Taiwan reveals itself, Lee comes to a kind of peace. Gong’s past and her present, so evocatively examined, suggest the forest she needed to find.
PositiveBookPageFor fans of the Bard, Death by Shakespeare: Snakebites, Stabbings, and Broken Hearts is the book they didn’t know they always wanted to read ... For those who have found Will’s way with language difficult to digest, this is the book that may change all that, focused as it is on the action ... She ends with a thoughtful look at the way Shakespeare touched on sensitive topics, like depression and suicide in Hamlet—a reminder that the Bard’s words stay with us because he was always ahead of his time.
Susan J. Douglas
PositiveBookPage... will inflame the hearts of both those who participated in the feminist movement of the 1970s and those who cut their teeth on #MeToo ... With humor and aplomb, Douglas makes a convincing case for how to end the war on older women and reinvent what aging can mean.
PositiveBookPage... [an] eye-opener of a read ... For both the scholar and the casually curious, there is a lot to learn about our presidents ... This story cannot be told without layering in the birth of the publishing industry and the growing pains of transportation, and Fehrman weaves a detailed tapestry from these threads ... There are the predictable standouts—Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, Roosevelt and Kennedy—and some outstanding surprises, such as Coolidge, Truman and Reagan ... Fehrman ensures their words will continue to matter.
E. J. Koh
PositiveBookPageAn engaging, literary take on language and its role in the diaspora of a scattered family, The Magical Language of Others speaks from—and to—the heart ... Throughout this slim memoir, fraught with differences in culture, custom and, most of all, language, runs a thread of familial love and pain, a back-and-forth that, given Koh’s eloquence, needs no translation.
PositiveBookPage... [Russell] proves Titanic’s story is very much worth rediscovering ... Russell concentrates on six such figures, colorfully detailing their wardrobes, meals and pastimes ... He also rigorously debunks darker rumors, painstakingly refuting, for example, the myth that stairways were blocked to prevent third-class passengers from reaching what few lifeboats were available. Russell even reasons that having more lifeboats may not have mattered after all ... Bacteria on the ocean floor may soon finish off the wreckage of Titanic, but her story, like Celine Dion’s Oscar-winning song from the movie, will go on. Gareth Russell does his best to tell it truly.
Lloyd Spencer Davis
RaveBookPage...[an] enthralling account ... With treacherous ice floes entrapping ships, invisible crevasses that became deathtraps, scurvy, frostbite and much, much more, Davis’ Antarctica is a vividly described, unforgiving world of ice and wind—where, by the way, freezing, starving men had to eat their dogs and ponies, and on Sundays gathered for Bible readings and hymns ... Somehow, Davis serves it all up with wit and a wry, irrepressible sense of humor, while imparting everything there is to know about penguins.
Jennine Capó Crucet
PositiveBookPageAs Jennine Capó Crucet makes clear in her thought-provoking collection of essays, whether you are or are not white isn’t just the point—it’s everything ... [a] timely, vital collection.
PositiveBookPage... both heartbreaking and humanizing ... What makes Dignity so compelling is Arnade’s thread of introspection: As he reached out to strangers, he dug inward, seeking to understand what effect his path to the \'front row\' of America had on his assumptions, judgments and perceptions. Coming to recognize and shed the blinders of his economic and ethnic class, he found a new capacity for empathy and understanding.
RaveBookPage\"... mesmerizing ... Rush remembers his acid trips with poetic clarity ... For his reader, this redeeming affirmation [of life] comes as both revelation and relief.\
Frans de Waal
RaveBookPage\"With wit and scholarly perspicacity, the renowned primatologist and ethologist offers an abundant study of animal and human emotions, urging a kinder, gentler approach to those with whom we share our planet ... We are all animals, de Waal reminds us, and he has provided a rich perspective on—and an urgent invitation to reconsider—every aspect of life around us.\
PositiveBookPageIf timing is indeed everything, what better time than now, here in deep winter, to seek—and find—solace in the delightful but often elusive moments of the everyday? ... Gay leads us on a merry walk through the mundane, illuminating moments of his day with intense, exquisitely detailed observations ... Gay’s journey ambles back and forth in time. He feels his losses but imbues them with gratitude; people here and gone remain his delights. They are all here, stuffing this slim book with their abilities to delight the author.
PositiveBookpage\"In 1881, Edgar Degas revealed his wax sculpture of an odd-looking young dancer at a Paris exhibition, a piece that caused controversy, revulsion and disgust among viewers. Today, Degas’ dancer is on display in the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and it is regarded as a treasure and a breakthrough work of realistic, multidimensional art. In Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, author Camille Laurens attempts to place both the artist and the child who served as Degas’ model, Marie van Goethem, in context, yet much of the mystery surrounding them remains, haunting writer and reader alike.
Jane Sherron de Hart
PositiveBookPageDoes a daunting job of restoring Ginsburg’s impressive roots ... As Martin Luther King Jr. said, \'The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.\' De Hart leaves no doubt that, in Justice Ginsburg’s hands, that arc will undoubtedly continue to bend.
Linda Kay Klein
PositiveBookPageRefugees from the \'purity industry,\' which had a heavy influence on evangelical youth in the latter years of the 20th century, may recognize themselves in Pure, Linda Kay Klein’s eye-opening study of what went wrong when strict interpretations of biblical Scripture became cultural touchstones ... Klein has since spent years interviewing many women about their church experiences, and their accounts are strikingly similar, graphic and disturbing ... Klein’s research supporting the need for reform is compelling, and she makes it clear that sexism and sexual shame directed toward women and young girls are endemic in our society ... For those who seek spiritual community without gender bias, Klein offers empathy and new choices.
PositiveBookpageMeet Louise Thaden, a married mother of two; Ruth Elder, a beautiful Alabama divorcée; Ruth Nichols, a woman unhappily born into wealth; and Florence Klingensmith, whose promising aviation career ended in tragedy. True resisters, they were empowered by their recently gained right to vote and inspired by aviation’s rising popularity. Charles Lindbergh’s recent solo trans-Atlantic flight in 1927 was an achievement that begged for a female challenger, and it had one soon enough ... The women of aviation were \'friendly enemies,\' competing for speed and distance records while supporting each other on the ground and in the air. Known collectively as the Ninety Nines, they encouraged young women to aim high. As Earhart said, a woman’s place \'is wherever her individual aptitude places her.\'
PositiveBookpageWhen a paleontologist writing about whales begins by quoting naturalist Henry Beston, \'They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time\'—you know you are in for a wondrous read. And Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures by Nick Pyenson is indeed that ... Pyenson confesses that \'whales aren’t my destination: they are the gateway to a journey of discovery, across oceans and through time,\' and he excels in taking his reader along on this journey ... The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft carry whale-song recordings as greetings to alien life-forms, although their meanings are yet to be understood. Despite all that humans have learned about whales, these sounds remain as mysterious as their makers.
PositiveBookPageAl Roker, co-host and weather anchor of NBC’s Today, vividly re-creates the tragedy of the Johnstown Flood ... By supplying plenty of detail, Roker brings the reader so deeply into the moment (it took about 10 seconds for most of Johnstown to be utterly destroyed) that you can almost hear the water’s roar and feel the thundering crashes ... Roker makes it clear that this disaster was created by humans.
PositiveBookPageWhile the title may suggest a single painting, the 30 essays included here are alive with locales as varied as Theroux’s many journeys. He is a collector of experiences with the famous and infamous, the familiar and the exotic, the literati and the little guys ... Having been everywhere and done almost everything, Theroux concludes Figures in a Landscape closer to home, examining his childhood and parents with the circumspection of a worldly-wise adult.
PositiveBookPageSeparated by 227 years, two men paddled up the longest river in Canada, one in search of the elusive Northwest Passage, the other wondering why he had never heard of that man’s earlier journey ... Their stories are skillfully intertwined in Castner’s thoroughly intriguing and enlightening Disappointment River ... For anyone concerned with the global effects of climate change, the meaning behind Disappointment River becomes alarmingly clear.
PositiveBookPageThe Kings of Big Spring is a family tree that offers no shade for its errant members. Violent, luckless husbands; unfaithful, hapless wives; and abandoned, wayward children are plentiful here. Their tales are told with the straightforwardness of a seasoned journalist, though Mealer seems justifiably wary of some of them. Like the Mealers, Big Spring crashed and reinvented itself, again and again … Mealer says of his family, ‘We drew our strength from the power of our own flesh and blood.’ The same could be said of Texas history, then and now.
PositiveBookPage...provocative and in-depth ... Scutts covers a lot of ground here, and she does it all so well that her readers may be inspired to dig further: the New-York Historical Society’s Center for Women’s History, where Scutts currently serves as a fellow, is a good start.
PositiveBookPageTake a fascinating look into this darker side of the U.S. economy in the wake of the Great Recession in the powerfully personal road trip, Nomadland ... Linda May’s plan was to work, save and buy land in an area remote enough for solitude but accessible to family and friends. Bruder follows in her own van ('Halen'), writing with a fine eye for details and a nonjudgmental pen, as May works hard to create her new way of life — or, rather, to recreate the unflappable pioneer spirit that got this country going in the first place.