Though the book serves as a corrective to cybertech utopianism, even the author admits, “I certainly couldn’t have written...

THE INTERNET IS NOT THE ANSWER

A Silicon Valley veteran and journalist sounds the alarm on the pernicious effects of the Internet.

Everything you love about the Internet—the connection, the convenience, the way it puts the world of information, goods and services at your fingertips—has its dark, Orwellian side, argues Keen (Digital Vertigo: How Today's Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us2012, etc.). Yes, the Internet changed the corporate playing field, and some have played by the new rules far better than others, but the book sometimes makes it seem that such success is itself a crime: “As in the medieval world, Google, Apple, and Facebook have detached themselves from the physical reality of the increasingly impoverished communities around them.” Keen rightly warns about loss of privacy (often willingly if unwittingly surrendered), about fortunes made through consumers working for free (with every Facebook post or Google search), about a future, if not the present, in which every connection is monitored and exploited. But his laments about the crash of Kodak and the demise of so many record stores suggest that he might as well be pining for the steam locomotive and quill pen. While he admits that much of the cultural change has been driven by consumers, leading to winner-take-all fortunes for whoever satisfies the customer best, those consumers simply don’t see the big picture: “Internet evangelists, especially libertarian entrepreneurs like Jeff Bezos, see everything in terms of satisfying the customer. And while Amazon does indeed satisfy most of us as consumers, it is having a far less satisfactory outcome for citizens.” For all of his doomsday prophecy, Keen’s solutions seem scaled down and conventional: recommendations for “technology Sabbaths or joining the ‘slow Web’ movement” and to “use the law and regulation to force the Internet out of its prolonged adolescence.”

Though the book serves as a corrective to cybertech utopianism, even the author admits, “I certainly couldn’t have written this book without the miracles of email and the Web.”

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0802123138

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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