PositiveThe Washington PostWhile Makari strays from the intensive focus on the term \'xenophobia\' in the second half of the book, he does shed light on the many ways human beings turn differences such as religion, race and gender into otherness and use that otherness to justify domination ... Perhaps xenophobic instincts can diminish in some circumstances. By shedding light on the trajectory of xenophobia during its 150-year history, this skillfully written account helps point us toward ways to combat it.
Shawna Kay Rodenberg
RaveThe Washington Post... explores the richness and dignity of Appalachian life in the 1980s, and of people who are too often stereotyped in the media ... Without overlaying the judgment of adulthood onto her experiences, Rodenberg writes from the perspective of a child who accepts the world around her as normal. This makes her descriptions of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of a \'handsome drifter\' who became her tutor even more poignant ... Through it all, she writes about her difficult childhood with a sense of grace and generosity that keeps this book from being too painful to read ... Fortunately as readers, we bear witness to the fact that she has put these stories to paper. The echoes of an important chapter from America’s past call out from these pages, and Rodenberg’s stories of lives that are generally overlooked make for essential reading.
PositiveThe Washington PostDreilinger’s lively account offers a thorough look at a profession that allowed women to participate in public life even as they were barred from most jobs and areas of study ... Dreilinger pays considerable attention to the contributions that African American women have made to home economics, even as they were kept out of mainstream White organizations well into the 1960s.
RaveThe Washington Post[A] searing look at the struggle for all Americans to achieve liberty and equality. Lalami eloquently tacks between her experiences as an immigrant to this country and the history of U.S. attempts to exclude different categories of people from the full benefits of citizenship ... Lalami offers a fresh perspective on the double consciousness of the immigrant ... Conditional citizenship is still conferred on people of color, women, immigrants, religious minorities, even those living in poverty, and Lalami’s insight in showing the subtle and overt ways discrimination operates in so many facets of life is one of this book’s major strengths.
Kassia St. Clair
PositiveThe Washington Post... offers an eclectic take on how humans have developed fabric, from the first known flax fibers found in a cave in Georgia, spun from the insides of plants and dating at around 32,000 years ago, to the spacesuits made from synthetic materials created in the past 100 years ... sometimes jumps from one seemingly disparate topic to another ... Yet each subject offers a fascinating look at the challenges that fabrics aim to overcome, as well as the often-devastating environmental and human effects involved in their production ... Absent are discussions of the textiles of Africa and Native and Latin America, which have been dated back thousands of years and have deep cultural and historical significance as well. Nonetheless, The Golden Thread spins a rich social history of textiles that also reflects the darker side of technology and the development of capitalism.
RaveThe Washington PostThe lives of Boas and his students make for riveting storytelling, and the author’s imaginative prose enlivens their discoveries, romantic exploits and professional jealousies ... King’s timely history reveals that Boas and his intellectual descendants spent their careers fighting for recognition of the basic humanity of those considered \'other\' to the white men who ruled the country.
PositiveThe Washington PostMoller enhances our understanding of the period from late antiquity until the Renaissance by highlighting the many cities where knowledge continued to thrive during the Medieval era, and where important manuscripts were lovingly translated and protected while elsewhere they had been reduced to ashes ... Visiting them through Moller’s imagination, the reader is invited to marvel at how multicultural the ancient world was, and to consider how the foundational knowledge of the Western world did not simply leap from the ancient Greeks to modern times but was painstakingly preserved, analyzed and innovated upon for almost 1,000 years.
RaveThe Washington Post[Hessler\'s] absorbing account of the fallout from the Egyptian revolutions of 2011. It is an eclectic, beautifully written narrative that weaves a portrait of contemporary life in Egypt together with the complex strands of its pharaonic past, finding parallels between seemingly disparate ancient and modern worlds ... captures the post-revolution euphoria and then its aftermath ... Although at first it may seem unclear why Hessler tacks between the instability of contemporary Egypt and its ancient glories, he makes thoughtful connections between the authoritarian grandeur of the past and the chaos of today ... Especially moving are Hessler’s tales of the people he befriended during his five years in Egypt. Their experiences offer deeper insights into both the nature of power in Egyptian society and the resilience of individuals making do with a life of electricity blackouts, economic insecurity and the arbitrary violence of the state ... an ambitious book, and it delivers on all fronts. It’s equal parts travelogue, history and memoir from a writer with a gift for conveying the profound humanity of his subjects ... Hessler highlights with great poignancy the untapped human potential and the cleverness with which Egyptians navigate everyday life in the face of an often brutal authoritarian regime.
PositiveThe Washington PostThe question of how humans came to be domesticated...has plagued philosophers and scientists for hundreds of years. Wrangham addresses this question by assessing fascinating evidence from studies of primates, foxes, domesticated animals and hominid fossils to reconstruct the process of our domestication as a species ... The Goodness Paradox pieces together findings from anthropology, history and biology to reconstruct a vivid and comprehensive history of how humans evolved into domesticated creatures. Some readers may find it challenging at times ... Nevertheless, the end result is rewarding, as The Goodness Paradox presents a complex but convincing perspective on how good and evil may have come to co-exist in our unique species.
PositiveThe Washington PostEhrenreich compares doctors’ examinations to rituals that serve as much to cement the social order and the authority of physicians as they do to advance healing. For women in particular, physical exams have historically been invasive and frequently humiliating, and often with unproven results ... Beyond the doctor’s office, Ehrenreich takes us into the world of wellness, where, from CrossFit to gluten-free diets, we obsessively follow the latest trends that promise eternal health. She traces this \'surge of interest in physical fitness\' to the 1980s, when disillusionment with the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement led to an inward turn, a type of self-involvement \'where if you could not change the world or even chart your own career, you could still control your own body\' ... In the final section of the book, Ehrenreich, who holds a PhD in cellular immunology, switches to biology to demonstrate the futility of our quest for immortality ... This book takes an important, albeit uncomfortable, look at the health-seeking practices of our era, documenting the tendency toward self-righteous cultural absolutism that has always accompanied American health fads.
PositiveThe Washington PostAslan devotes significant time to the 'big three' monotheistic religions but does not explain why other cultures have been able to follow religious systems, such as Buddhism, without a deity at their center. If the human tendency is to want a humanlike God, what explains the success of these other religions? Nonetheless, Aslan’s fluid writing style makes the reader inclined to drop any lingering questions and accept his assertions on faith alone. His use of scholarly sources from fields ranging from archaeology to neuroscience will introduce many readers to information that otherwise would be relatively inaccessible, and he combines these disparate sources in compelling ways. Whatever God may be, at the very least Aslan shows us the long history of how humans have made Him in our image, and not vice versa.