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Devoid of rhetoric, this evenhanded work exemplifies outstanding reportage.

A thorough investigation into how Roe v. Wade fell.

“The antiabortion movement succeeded because most people did not believe it would.” So write Dias, national religion correspondent for the New York Times, and Lerer, a Times political reporter, who interviewed hundreds of people and reported from 16 states and the District of Columbia. The authors organize the 36 chapters into four chronological parts. “The Righteous Fight” begins with the huge influence of Marjorie Dannenfelser, an antiabortion activist who viewed the movement as “a spiritual battle about what it means to be human.” The authors go on to chronicle the history of Planned Parenthood, long supported by Republicans. In the second part, “The Political War,” Dias and Lerer delineate how that support turned into opposition as the organization came to represent “the diminished power of traditional religion, gender roles, and families in American life.” In a culture where Democratic voters proved to be unmotivated by abortion, the antiabortion movement was reemerging and gaining momentum among Republicans, especially social conservatives. “For more than forty years, the antiabortion movement was David, fighting Goliath,” write the authors, “but the country had shifted, and they were giants.” The third section, “The Chessboard,” covers Trump’s election and details how he garnered support among antiabortion voters. Following his victory, liberals were caught off guard; they had no planned response to the threat against abortion rights. In “The Fate of the Nation,” the authors examine Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation and how the Supreme Court became “more conservative than at any other point in modern history.” At that point, antiabortion leaders were able to flip the court. The book’s greatest strength is the authors’ comprehensive and incisive approach to explaining that “Roe did not just fall once, on June 24, 2022. Roe collapsed over a transformational decade.”

Devoid of rhetoric, this evenhanded work exemplifies outstanding reportage.

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9781250881397

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: June 4, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2024

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Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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