Inspired and inspiring reading for troubled times.

RIGHTEOUS TROUBLEMAKERS

UNTOLD STORIES OF THE SOCIAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT IN AMERICA

The prominent Baptist preacher and activist spotlights the work of the “unsung heroes” of modern social justice movements.

For Sharpton, the 2020 George Floyd murder protests recalled the civil rights marches of the 1960s. While the former event made clear that the “hardships and victories” of all marginalized groups had merged into a single fight, both events were alike in how the bravery of everyday people had been “overlooked or cast aside.” In this apt follow-up to last year’s Rise Up: Confronting a Country at the Crossroads, the author begins with story of Darnella Frazier, who recorded Floyd’s murder on her cellphone to honor truth and all Black men who live in fear of White supremacy. In his discussion of other police brutality victims, Sharpton recalls another police chokehold victim, Eric Garner, as well as his mother, Gwen Carr. In the years after her son’s death, Carr joined forces with other similarly bereaved mothers to form Mothers of the Movement, an organization dedicated to “raising social awareness of police violence.” Yet as Sharpton emphasizes throughout, the larger movement of which all these individuals are part was built on the efforts of early civil rights activists like James Meredith, the first Black man to graduate from the rabidly segregationist University of Mississippi, and Claudette Colvin, the poor Black girl whose 1955 arrest for refusing to sit at the back of an Alabama bus inspired the more “mediagenic” Rosa Parks to action. Sharpton also pays extended homage to Pauli Murray, a queer mid-20th-century lawyer and feminist. Co-founder of the National Organization for Women with Betty Friedan and others, her legal scholarship informed the work of such judicial luminaries as Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Seeking to rectify omissions of history, Sharpton delivers a fierce and celebratory book that offers insight into ways everyone can transform the pain of injustice into the “righteous troublemak[ing]” that uplifts all.

Inspired and inspiring reading for troubled times.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-63991-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hanover Square Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

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WILL

One of Hollywood’s biggest stars delivers a memoir of success won through endless, relentless work and self-reckoning.

“My imagination is my gift, and when it merges with my work ethic, I can make money rain from the heavens.” So writes Smith, whose imagination is indeed a thing of wonder—a means of coping with fear, an abusive father with the heart of a drill instructor, and all manner of inner yearnings. The author’s imagination took him from a job bagging ice in Philadelphia to initial success as a partner in the Grammy-winning rap act DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. Smith was propelled into stardom thanks to the ministrations of Quincy Jones, who arranged an audition in the middle of his own birthday party, bellowing “No paralysis through analysis!” when Smith begged for time to prepare. The mantra—which Jones intoned 50-odd times during the two hours it took for the Hollywood suits to draw up a contract for the hit comedy series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—is telling, for hidden within this memoir lies a powerful self-help book. For Smith, all of life is a challenge in which one’s feelings are largely immaterial. “I watched my father’s negative emotions seize control of his ample intellect and cause him over and over again to destroy beautiful parts of our family,” he writes, good reason for him to sublimate negativity in the drive to get what he wanted—money, at first, and lots of it, which got him in trouble with the IRS in the early 1990s. Smith, having developed a self-image that cast him as a coward, opines that one’s best life is lived by facing up to the things that hold us back. “I’ve been making a conscious effort to attack all the things that I’m scared of,” he writes, adding, “And this is scary.” It’s a good lesson for any aspiring creative to ponder—though it helps to have Smith’s abundant talent, too.

A refreshing celebrity memoir focused not strictly on the self but on a much larger horizon.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984877-92-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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