PositiveLibrary JournalTubbs begins this biography of three remarkable women by stating her intention to honor the subjects as accomplished and inspiring people in their own right, not only as mothers of famous men, and follows through beautifully on this promise ... The author writes with great respect and provides just the right amount of information to leave readers with an understanding of their complicated lives, shaped by the devastating racism of early 20th-century America but full of love and independence. The narrative makes clear that each woman made possible the accomplishments of her famous child with her own resilience, determination, and activism ... This compassionate book skillfully introduces three people who have had an important impact on the world but whose lives receive little attention. Readers will complete the book feeling their time was well spent.
PositiveLibrary Journal... engrossing, memorable, and delightful ... remarkably consistent and relevant throughout ... All are written with sincerity and with Didion’s powerful sense of astute observation, as she describes her influences, worries, and occasionally fears. Readers can judge for themselves their own standout essay from the collection, but surely Why I Write will be a strong contender. Several pieces in this volume attend to the craft and purpose of writing, and in this one especially Didion candidly shows her devotion to writing and explains her own place and purpose as a writer ... This volume could be read in one sitting or one vignette at a time, as Didion’s perceptive voice connects the essays beautifully, but each one can stand equally well on its own terms. For both fans of Didion and those new to her work entirely, this collection is an essential investment.
RaveLibrary Journal... comprehensive and richly told ... Synthesizing a treasure trove of Rich’s letters, journals, testimonials, and published writings to chronicle a complicated and impactful life, Holladay takes readers through Rich’s unorthodox and at times turbulent upbringing, her early years of professional and academic success at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, her frustrations as a mother of three young sons with a demanding family life, and her later years as a prominent feminist activist and writer in New York and California. Holladay shows Rich’s relevance today through mining meaning from her poems, which reflect both an earlier time as well as our current political moment, and help to tell the story of her life, which Holladay interprets through events happening to the poet at the time she was writing certain poems ... Exceptionally well-researched and detailed, this is a definitive portrait of Rich that will be welcomed by aspiring writers and poets, Rich scholars, and devotees of 20th-century American poetry.
MixedLibrary JournalLorr offers a stark perspective ... Lorr succeeds in raising awareness of the people who make our food systems possible and the conditions in which they live and work. Yet the stories do not always effectively cohere to create a well-rounded narrative.
L. Annette Binder
PositiveWashington Independent Review of BooksAt a moment when American readers uneasily watch our own leaders stoke ethnic and religious tensions—often to tragic ends—in a way that we have not quite seen before in our lifetimes, the Hubers’ story feels particularly revelatory. Binder is a deft writer with a gift for choosing vocabulary that elevates the observations of normal people into carefully rendered art ... The Vanishing Sky tells a tragic story, but it also serves as a meditation on tragedy and the everyday cruelty by which tragedy is so often begotten ... Some of the book’s most poignant insights into the human capacity for evil come through the scarce passages narrated from Josef’s perspective, which reveal how his childlike desire for respect and belonging contribute to the confused old schoolmaster’s embrace of Nazi ideology—to the great detriment of his family. Despite its many strengths, The Vanishing Sky ends on a relatively weak note ... Nevertheless, The Vanishing Sky is a moving and worthwhile read, albeit not a happy one. The novel is artfully written, and Binder’s insights into extreme nationalism make it particularly relevant today.
RaveLibrary JournalMany events will be familiar to even casual observers of American culture...but Mifflin situates these events in the pageant’s historical context, allowing for a better understanding of their cultural impact. While deftly commenting on the racism and sexism that have characterized the pageant’s history, she also makes space for the contestants to speak openly for themselves about their own experiences, something pageants themselves are not known for ... This work offers a thought-provoking, balanced, and highly informative look at an institution that has perplexed and enticed Americans since its founding.
RaveLibrary Journal... candid, heartbreaking stories of real Tibetans who have lived through periods of great tumult in their homeland. The stories are beautifully rendered and walk readers through the events that shook Ngaba, a town in Tibet that became synonymous in the 21st century with tragic self-immolations, and is geographically a difficult place to visit. By showing how people’s individual lives unfolded and the hardships and dangers they endured, Demick sheds light on how Chinese oppression led many Tibetans to fight back, sacrificing their lives in the hopes of preserving their culture and their peoples’ right to freedom. Readers will be moved by the tragedies and triumphs of these unforgettable individuals and will develop a greater understanding of those who call the \'rooftop of the world\' their home ... Taking a compelling approach to documenting Ngaba’s history through the eyes of its own people, this wonderfully written book will leave readers with a stronger appreciation for why the movement to support the Tibetan people deserves so much more attention.
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThe everyday challenges faced by Rachel, a main character in Leah Franqui’s second novel, Mother Land, may resonate with anyone who has spent considerable time in a new country or even in a new community ... Franqui, herself an American woman living in Mumbai with her Indian husband, takes a risk by alternating between Rachel’s perspective and Swati’s each time she starts a new chapter. This technique allows the author to illustrate the significant gap between Swati’s worldview and Rachel’s, though a reader who shares Swati’s Marwari heritage — and, to be clear, this reader does not — may not find all of Swati’s inner monologues entirely plausible ... The novel is a quick read, driven by a plot that will pique readers’ curiosity about how Rachel and Swati’s disagreements, large and small, will resolve ... Despite the inviting plot, however, some of the passages that describe Rachel’s and Swati’s thoughts and rumination drag, as they do not always serve to impart wisdom or advance the narrative. Still, Mother Land is a pleasant story of self-discovery and friendship with plenty of twists and intrigue to keep the reader engaged.
PositiveLibrary JournalCose’s book is an excellent choice for anyone seeking to understand the ACLU as an organization and for those wanting to explore how the fight for civil liberties has evolved and helped to shape the society we have today.
RaveLibrary JournalEven for avid readers of memoirs, Talusan’s...debut will stand out from the crowd, not only because of the author’s unique experiences, but also because she presents them with a rare, frank vulnerability ... in perhaps the most compelling part of the book, readers follow her journey and relationships after college, which ultimately led to her gender transition ... Gender, race, and sexuality are all foremost themes throughout the book, and it is a notable read for those particularly interested in these topics. However, Talusan’s account also offers an intensely personal example of how one’s relation to oneself changes over time, shaped by circumstances and personal choices, making it a compelling story for a wide variety of readers.
PositiveLibrary JournalAll of the stories are a delight to read. The author\'s contributions are engaging, though the book sometimes fails to fully explore the intersections of race, culture, sexuality, and other identities that make it more difficult for some women to succeed than others. The group of women included in the book is diverse, but the author\'s analysis occasionally feels narrow and ignores the many layers of the subjects\' lives and communities ... While an imperfect presentation, the book is an easy read and the extent of the author\'s research makes this book a worthwhile addition to the growing literature offering long overdue profiles of the world\'s most brilliant women.
PositiveLibrary JournalDetails are generally presented in a straightforward manner; likely, readers with a casual interest in U.S. history will learn something new about how the scandal unfolded. The epilog is an excellent addition, touching on the parallels between the Watergate investigation and the actions of Donald Trump during his time in office ... Though the storytelling is not always engaging, the author’s earnest desire to tell a story that matters is evident throughout. This insider’s perspective on the Watergate investigation will be most relevant to those who study politics, law, gender, and U.S. history.
MixedLibrary JournalMoore represents a white family of considerable privilege, a fact that is acknowledged in the text but still limits the perspective. Moore shares intimate glimpses of her family life and coming-of-age story, beautifully integrating excerpts from her mother’s writing among her own recollections and research. However, perhaps because it seeks to cover too much territory, the book sometimes struggles to remain engaging and at times gets bogged down by details. Overall, readers will catch the spirit of the story, but without a clear sense of the book’s purpose and what comes next ... Moore offers a rich exploration of an individual whose life and family were dramatically altered by second-wave feminism. However, the account struggles with the dual tasks of being both biography and memoir and takes on more than it can satisfyingly deliver.
PositiveLibrary JournalRarely does a parent share with such candid emotion their experience of losing a child as Dial does in his memoir, which begins with the author’s early life and passion for the outdoors, then explores how he shared that passion with his children ... Dial leaves no emotion unaddressed, sharing his grief, panic, guilt, fear, hope, confusion, and frustration throughout his long search for answers. While heartbreaking to read, Dial’s story is also a powerful testament to the bond between parent and child and the need to do the things we love, even when fear seeks to stop us ... Dial’s memoir is a beautiful book that will speak most ardently to parents, but also to adventurers, travelers, scientists, and all those who find joy in exploring the world.
PositiveLibrary JournalThe roles of fast food restaurants as employers, nutritional battlegrounds, sites of community activism, and charitable contributors are thoroughly explored, though at times the writing lacks narrative focus to tie together the details. The strongest chapters touch on the relationship between the civil rights movement and fast food, including sit-ins and boycotts, as well as the reasons some activists promoted franchising opportunities for black business leaders. The well-written conclusion emphasizes how today’s conversations around fast food in America were shaped by government policies, and examines how the fast-food industry is connected to Black Lives Matter and other social change movements ... The book sticks close to its focus of franchising McDonald’s restaurants among black communities in the 20th century, and covers the topic well. This niche subject may not have wide-ranging appeal, but the research is invaluable for those studying the intersections of race, economics, and business in the United States.
Cathy Park Hong
PositiveLibrary JournalPoet and essayist Hong’s family history beautifully details how her life and art have been shaped by her Korean American identity ... Every page is packed with details and reflections on the myriad ways that Americans’ lives are shaped by race. The author has a particular talent for bringing a moment to life, inviting readers to confront the raw emotions of a given scene. She does not shy away from complication or bluntness, but presents her truth with all its complexity ... An extraordinary blend of memoir, cultural criticism, and history that will invite readers from all backgrounds, though especially those who identify as Asian American, to consider the complex relationships between race, family, heritage, and society that shape American lives.
PositiveLibrary JournalGinsburg’s passages are powerful and enlightening, but what this book offers about Ginsberg’s personal history and judicial philosophy has largely been addressed in other books and interviews ... Libraries with patrons keenly interested in the Supreme Court, especially those serving law, political science, and American history students, will find this a compelling addition. For those eager to add a new resource on the Justice, this book provides a solid introduction to her life and thoughts on the American legal system.
PositiveLibrary Journal... beautifully written ... covers a wide range of topics while still creating a cohesive, thoughtful experience for readers ... Familiar subjects are presented in ways that compel readers to examine them with fresh perspective. Though the subject matter is vast, the author’s voice is consistently engaging throughout ... The wide-ranging scope of this excellent book, with a foreword by Zadie Smith, will appeal to a broad audience. Anyone with a desire to reflect on the role that racism plays in shaping individual lives and broader American culture will undoubtedly find this to be a valuable read.
MixedLibrary JournalMuch of the historical material is already covered by Stephen Jay Gould in The Mismeasure of Man, and readers familiar with that text will find a great deal of overlap. Evans includes some contemporary analysis of racial science in the present, particularly pertaining to the alt-right and the election of Donald Trump. However, more attention to the impact of race science on society, rather than a critical analysis of its methods, would do more to set this entry apart from Gould’s previous work ... An easy read for casual audiences. Those without much prior knowledge of the development of racial science and where it stands today will find this to be a thorough historical introduction.