A well-curated collection with many ideas for ways large and small to save the planet.

ALL WE CAN SAVE

TRUTH, COURAGE, AND SOLUTIONS FOR THE CLIMATE CRISIS

A welcome anthology, in prose and verse, of women’s writings on climate change.

At the outset, marine biologist Johnson, founder of the Urban Ocean Lab, and teacher Wilkinson, vice president of Project Drawdown, write that the political and social constructs that oppress women are one and the same with those that are wreaking havoc on the global environment: “Dominance, supremacy, violence, extraction, egotism, greed, ruthless competition—these hallmarks of patriarchy fuel the climate crisis just as surely as they do inequality, colluding with racism along the way.” There’s no such zero-sum game-playing here. The editors observe that women are well equipped to transcend ego and competition in order to create a politics of “heart-centered, not just head-centered, leadership.” Many of the writings that follow celebrate Indigenous ways of knowing: Mexico-born Xiye Bastida, for example, invokes her Otomi-Toltec ancestors to advocate a “shift in culture and mindset.” She argues vigorously for intersectional activism and eschews any form of exclusive politics that further marginalizes the disenfranchised. Penobscot writer Sherri Mitchell emphasizes the importance of recognizing that “we are all inextricably linked” while Joy Harjo, the first Native poet laureate, raises a number of provocative questions for would-be political leaders—e.g., “Do you have authority by the original keepers of the lands, those who obey natural law and are in the service of the lands on which you stand?” If not, the leader has no business in the job. Some writers—Naomi Klein, say—are more grounded in scientific and political approaches, and poet Emily Johnston delivers a needed caution: We can work diligently and still not solve the monumental problems we face, but that is no excuse not to do it: “There is too much we need to heal, and we have to change the path that we’re on. We have beautiful work to do before we die.” Other contributors include Ada Limón, Kendra Pierre-Louis, Varshini Prakash, and Mary Oliver.

A well-curated collection with many ideas for ways large and small to save the planet.

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-23706-9

Page Count: 432

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

SO HELP ME GOD

The former vice president reflects warmly on the president whose followers were encouraged to hang him.

Pence’s calm during the Trump years has been a source of bemusement, especially during the administration’s calamitous demise. In this bulky, oddly uncurious political memoir, Pence suggests the source of his composure is simple: frequent prayer and bottomless patience for politicking. After a relatively speedy recap of his personal and political history in Indiana—born-again Christian, conservative radio host, congressman, governor—he remembers greeting the prospect of serving under Trump with enthusiasm. He “was giving voice to the desperation and frustration caused by decades of government mismanagement,” he writes. Recounting how the Trump-Pence ticket won the White House in 2016, he recalls Trump as a fundamentally hardworking president, albeit one who often shot from the hip. Yet Pence finds Trump’s impulsivity an asset, setting contentious foreign leaders and Democrats off-balance. Soon they settled into good cop–bad cop roles; he was “the gentler voice,” while “it was Trump’s job to bring the thunder.” Throughout, Pence rationalizes and forgives all sorts of thundering. Sniping at John McCain? McCain never really took the time to understand him! Revolving-door staffers? He’s running government like a business! That phone call with Ukraine’s president? Overblown! Downplaying the threat Covid-19 presented in early 2020? Evidence, somehow, of “the leadership that President Trump showed in the early, harrowing days of the pandemic.” But for a second-in-command to such a disruptive figure, Pence dwells little on Trump’s motivations, which makes the story’s climax—Trump’s 2020 election denials and the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection—impossible for him to reconcile. How could such a selfless patriot fall under the sway of bad lawyers and conspiracy theorists? God only knows. Chalk it up to Pence's forgiving nature. In the lengthy acknowledgments he thanks seemingly everybody he’s known personally or politically; but one name’s missing.

Disingenuous when not willfully oblivious.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781982190330

Page Count: 560

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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Certain to be controversial, but all the more important for that.

PIRATE ENLIGHTENMENT, OR THE REAL LIBERTALIA

The final book from the longtime activist anthropologist.

In a lively display of up-to-date anthropology, Graeber (1961-2020) offers a behind-the-scenes view of how a skilled researcher extracts knowledge from the slimmest evidence about a long-ago multiethnic society composed of pirates and settled members of existing communities. In this posthumous book, the author turns to 17th- and 18th-century Madagascar and examines hard-to-credit sources to tease out some plausible facts about the creation and early life of a distinctive Indian Ocean society, some of whose Malagasy descendants (“the Zana-Malata”) are alive today. Exhibiting his characteristic politically tinged sympathies, Graeber describes the pirates who plied the seas and settled on Madagascar as an ethno-racially integrated proletariat “spearheading the development of new forms of democratic governance.” He also argues that many of the pirates and others displayed European Enlightenment ideas even though they inhabited “a very unlikely home for Enlightenment political experiments.” Malagasies were “Madagascar’s most stubbornly egalitarian peoples,” and, as the author shows, women played significant roles in the society, which reflected Jewish, Muslin, Ismaili, and Gnostic origins as well as native Malagasy and Christian ones. All of this information gives Graeber the chance to wonder, in his most provocative conjecture, whether Enlightenment ideals might have emerged as much beyond Western lands as within them. His argument that pirates, women traders, and community leaders in early 18th-century Madagascar were “global political actors in the fullest sense of the term” is overstated, but even with such excesses taken into account, the text is a tour de force of anthropological scholarship and an important addition to Malagasy history. It’s also a work written with a pleasingly light touch. The principal audience will be anthropologists, but those who love pirate lore or who seek evidence that mixed populations were long capable of establishing proto-democratic societies will also find enlightenment in these pages.

Certain to be controversial, but all the more important for that.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-374-61019-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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