RETURN TO SODOM AND GOMORRAH

BIBLE STORIES FROM ARCHAEOLOGISTS

In the latest leg of an idiosyncratic intellectual journey, Pellegrino looks at the stories of the Old Testament through the lenses of genetics, paleontology, and archaeology. Pellegrino (Unearthing Atlantis, 1990, etc.) has an autodidact's omnivorous curiosity to match his high-flying imagination. In this new hodgepodge, he expands on the speculations he put forward in his previous expedition into antiquity, in which he hypothesized that the volcano-buried Minoan city of Thera was the inspiration for the legendary Atlantis. Here he conjectures that when an eruption in the second millennium b.c. obliterated the Minoan civilization, its long-distance effects may have been responsible for the plagues of Egypt and the Aegean diaspora that brought the Philistines to Canaan. He also annexes other theories having to do with the contentious ``Mitochondrial Eve'' hypothesis (based on mitochondrial DNA research, it theorizes that genetic the mother of us all lived between 250,000 and 140,000 b.c.) and the Ark of the Covenant's wanderings. Using diverse scientific sources and historical perspectives—Sumerian clay tablets, Egyptian steles, the writings of Herodotus, and, naturally, the Bible—he ``telescopes'' anthropological and archaeological theories to fit Biblical myths like those of Noah and Nimrod, compressing patterns of history into oral tradition's legends. With a natural sense of storytelling, he blends theories of antiquity with the adventures of field work: He is best describing the modern difficulties of conducting digs in Gaza, Jericho, and Iraq (where he radically situates the Biblical Cities of the Plain destroyed by God's wrath). There is, however, a good deal of padding by this accidental archaeologist: reconstructed dialogue, digression, repetition, and flights of fancy that leave solid ground far below. For all its interdisciplinary breadth and originality, this reads like a beery breeze-shooting session with a college prof. (16 pages of b&w drawings, maps, not seen) (Author tour)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-40006-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1994

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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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