Wide-ranging and compelling interviews with Latinas who are making a difference in Wisconsin.

SOMOS LATINAS

VOICES OF WISCONSIN LATINA ACTIVISTS

Midwestern Latina activists share their stories in a book introduced by Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the group that became the United Farmworkers.

In this collection of oral histories from two dozen female leaders of Wisconsin’s Latinx community, collected as part of a statewide research project, Arenas and Gómez show the community’s diversity while celebrating people who have pushed for progress in education, health care, and workers’ and tenants’ rights, among other causes. In her foreword, the much-honored Huerta, the co-founder with César Chavez of the forerunner of the United Farmworkers, tells how she found her llamda, or calling. The rest of the book consists mainly of edited interviews with the featured women and a brief concluding section focused on themes found throughout the project. The activists interviewed represent a range of ethnicities and origins as well as varied careers and interests. Some of the women are immigrants, while others are U.S.-born. Many are of Mexican or Puerto Rican descent, but the book also includes women of Salvadoran, Cuban, and Spanish heritage; some grew up in poverty and others in middle-class families. The women discuss their identification as activists, the causes that motivated them to get involved, and their successes and challenges. While the book does not offer a fully comprehensive view of Latinas’ contributions to Wisconsin—the project criteria required women to be 50 or older when interviewed, so younger women are absent—it does an excellent job of presenting the community’s history in an engaging format that reflects the diversity of experiences in the region. One of the book’s strengths is the wealth of detail in the women’s stories. Musician Lupita Béjar Verbeten describes the protest songs she performed on behalf of farmworkers and laid-off employees. Maria Dolores Cruz recalls her unsuccessful but satisfying campaign for the state senate. And Carmen De La Paz explains how her individual activism evolved into a family-wide involvement in the community. The women’s stories are interesting and enlightening, and readers will appreciate their perspective on a group that tends to be underrepresented in books about the Midwest.

Wide-ranging and compelling interviews with Latinas who are making a difference in Wisconsin.

Pub Date: May 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-87020-859-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Wisconsin Historical Society Press

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2020

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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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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