McKibben digs deep into our history (and his own well-meaning but not all-seeing past) and into the latest scholarship on race and inequality in America, on the rise of the religious right, and on our environmental crisis to explain how we got to this point. He finds that he is not without hope. And he wonders if any of that trinity of his youth—The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon—could, or should, be reclaimed in the fight for a fairer future.
His latest book is a slim cri de coeur about the rot at the base of his biographical foundations. McKibben finds his country, his religion and the suburban lifestyle of his youth to be so flawed that he’s ready to divorce much of his past ... This memoir reads like an extended argument against the idea — oft cited by Martin Luther King Jr. and Barack Obama, among others — that the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice ... Anyone not in McKibben’s camp seems unlikely to join if the takeaway message is: Your country, your religion and your neighborhood all suck ... Throughout the book, McKibben seems defensive in his national and personal teardown ... His solutions, though no less sincerely offered than his mea culpas, seem like quick add-ons.
A clarifying discussion of why racism is systemic in American society and what remedies can be pursued ... Adept at factual storytelling and connecting the dots, earnest, caring, and funny, McKibben dovetails personal reckonings with an astute elucidation of our social justice and environmental crises, arguing wisely that facing the truth about our past is the only way forward to a more just and sustainable future.
The dark heart of American racism, alienation, and environmental destruction lies in suburbia, according to this anguished jeremiad ... McKibben’s critique of suburbia is a familiar one, updated with contemporary twists. He presents a convincing case against suburban zoning codes that essentially ban affordable housing; less cogently, he calls for reparations to redistribute wealth accrued from racist housing policies of the past...and claims that his fellow boomers are 'about to be the first generation to leave the world a worse place than when we found it,' ignoring the steady, global rise in living standards of recent decades. Sharp autobiographical sketches and social commentary combined with too much ill-considered hand-wringing make this a mixed bag.