A well-told chronicle of an ambitious sociological project of significant current importance.

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STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN LAND

ANGER AND MOURNING ON THE AMERICAN RIGHT

An acclaimed liberal sociologist examines “the increasingly hostile split” between America’s two major political parties and “how life feels to people on the right—that is…the emotion that underlies politics.”

Five years before Donald Trump’s presidential bid caught fire, Hochschild (So How's the Family?: And Other Essays, 2013, etc.) decided she wanted to better understand the political and cultural divides in the United States by immersing herself in the anti-government tea party culture so foreign to her own beliefs. Traveling regularly from her Berkeley, California, home to Lake Charles, Louisiana, the author arranged to spend large amounts of time with tea party members and additional self-identified conservatives to figure out how they came to their beliefs. Hochschild felt especially puzzled by the paradox of Louisiana residents residing in dangerously polluted areas yet opposing environmental regulations proposed by both the state and federal governments. Though upset by seemingly racist, sexist, ageist, and economic class hatreds among the men and women she came to know, Hochschild says her determination to observe empathetically rarely flagged. She quickly realized that many of the stated views held of the tea party members were often not fact-based but rather grounded in what life feels like to them—e.g., government feels intrusive, liberals feel condescending, members of racial and ethnic minorities feel lazy and threatening. Trying to imagine herself as the Lake Charles residents viewed themselves, Hochschild vowed to immerse herself thoroughly enough to comprehend what she terms their "deep stories,” and she felt grateful that the tea party members who found her views offensive nonetheless shared their time and thoughts generously. At times, Hochschild flirts with overgeneralizing and stereotyping, but for the most part, she conducts herself as a personable, nonjudgmental researcher.

A well-told chronicle of an ambitious sociological project of significant current importance.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62097-225-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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