An empathetic and detailed recounting of Asian American histories rarely found in textbooks.

ASIAN AMERICAN HISTORIES OF THE UNITED STATES

An impressive new work about how major moments in Asian American history continue to influence the modern world.

In the first chapter, Choy, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley, connects anti-Asian violence during the Covid-19 pandemic to a history of stereotyping Asian immigrants as carriers of disease. Later, she ties the erasure of Chinese railroad workers to the lack of Asian representation in popular media. Popular culture, she writes, has “played a formative role in portraying Asians as subhuman and superhuman threats.” Besides covering topics that are relatively well known, such as Japanese internment and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the author also discusses histories that have been largely erased, including the formation of Asian American groups supporting independence struggles on the Asian continent; the long history of Asian-Black solidarity, which dates back to “Frederick Douglass’s 1869 speech advocating for Chinese immigration”; and the passage of the misogynistic Page Act of 1875, which forced Asian immigrant women to prove that they were not prostitutes before allowing them entry to the U.S. Choy aptly characterizes her work as a fight against erasure and as an attempt to humanize Asian American immigrants whose invisibility so often exposes them to violence. “Asian Americans are in sight, but unseen. And this must change,” she writes. “Placing a human face on the Asian immigrant experience is one way to contest this vicious cycle of nativism.” In addition to being deeply knowledgeable, the author radiates passion and sincerity. Her inclusion of personal experiences infuses the narrative with an intimacy unusual for historical texts, and her experimental use of second person—most notably in the chapter about Japanese internment—cleverly sparks empathy in readers who might never have considered what it’s like to live through race-based violence.

An empathetic and detailed recounting of Asian American histories rarely found in textbooks.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-8070-5079-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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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Strictly for dittoheads.

RADIO'S GREATEST OF ALL TIME

An unabashed celebration of the late talking head.

Rush Limbaugh (1951-2021) insisted that he had a direct line to God, who blessed him with brilliance unseen since the time of the Messiah. In his tribute, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis calls him “the greatest broadcaster that [sic] ever lived.” That’s an accidental anointment, given checkered beginnings. Limbaugh himself records that, after earning a failing grade for not properly outlining a speech, he dropped out of college—doubtless the cause of his scorn for higher education. This book is a constant gush of cult-of-personality praise, with tributes from Ben Carson, Mike Pence, Donald Trump, and others. One radio caller called Limbaugh “practically perfect” and a latter-day George Washington by virtue of “the magnetism and the trust and the belief of all the people.” Limbaugh insists that conservatives are all about love, though he filled the airwaves with bitter, divisive invective about the evils of liberals, as with this tidbit: “to liberals, the Bill of Rights is horrible, the Bill of Rights grants citizens freedom….The Bill of Rights limits the federal government, and that’s negative to a socialist like Obama.” Moreover, “to Democrats, America’s heartland is ‘flyover’ country. They don’t know, or like, the Americans who live there, or their values.” Worse still for a money machine like Limbaugh, who flew over that heartland in a private jet while smoking fat cigars, liberals like Obama are “trying to socialize profit so that [they] can claim it”—anathema to wealthy Republicans, who prefer to socialize risk by way of bailouts while keeping the profits for themselves. Limbaugh fans will certainly eat this up, though a segment of the Republican caucus in Congress (Marjorie Taylor Greene et al.) might want to read past Limbaugh’s repeated insistence that “peace can’t be achieved by ‘developing an understanding’ with the Russian people.”

Strictly for dittoheads.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2022

ISBN: 9781668001844

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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