Students of inequality and demographics will find powerful anecdotal evidence for how the changing cityscape brings both...

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SILICON CITY

SAN FRANCISCO IN THE LONG SHADOW OF THE VALLEY

Whither San Francisco? The way of all places, it seems, overrun by high tech and big money, the familiar villains of this oral history–based portrait.

By many accounts, San Francisco is the engine of a new kind of economy, one driven by young tech workers from all over the country who need only fast transportation and good bars to stay happy. What about the other workers? Writes documentary filmmaker McClelland, “as if radiating from San Francisco and Silicon Valley, economic pressures are pushing whole communities outward.” This is especially true of the elderly and the poorer working class, who simply cannot afford to live in the places where they work. Some of the older bohemian types whom the author interviews lament the passing of times when the place sported “a wild group of people…[who] knew that money doesn’t drive everything.” There are a few moneyed, techie types aboard, of course, including a pioneer of the self-driving car who has a cleareyed vision of “cool systems that bring us further as a society,” just as there are representatives of the various intellectual schools, mostly of the left, that have long characterized the region. Notes one, “a few hundred thousand professionals may think they make the Bay Area great, but they forget about all the people doing the other work," from cooking the food to driving the subway to taking care of the kids, all of whom could do better for their buck almost anywhere else in the country. The descriptions are long and the prescriptions few, but it’s striking how many of McClelland’s respondents, no matter what their work or background, are concerned with building a better, more equitable city. The book is firmly in the Studs Terkel tradition of first-person–based explorations of working-class life; if it lacks some of Terkel’s literary and sociological power, it’s still a solid contribution to popular urban studies.

Students of inequality and demographics will find powerful anecdotal evidence for how the changing cityscape brings both harm and good.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-393-60879-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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