A sharp study that raises troubling questions about the integrity of the research underlying much current educational...




A repudiation of the fashionable claims of “girl advocates” by controversial social critic Sommers (Who Stole Feminism?, 1994).

“It’s a bad time to be a boy in America,” the author (a mother of sons) declares. She spends much of her time in this contentious study establishing and documenting her thesis that, contrary to the declarations of Harvard educator Carol Gilligan and her myriad followers, it is boys, not girls, who “are languishing academically and socially.” Sommers produces convincing, even devastating evidence of the academic dishonesty practiced by those who support the opposite thesis—the so-called “girl-crisis” writers. Gilligan and her colleagues, according to Sommers, base their alarming conclusions on insubstantial and shoddy research. (Gilligan, for example, has neither published nor released to the public in any other form her three studies that were the foundation for her 1982 bestseller, In a Different Voice.) Sommers also assails other widely publicized gender studies sponsored by the American Association of University Women and the McLean Hospital of the Harvard Medical School, showing that they are at best biased and at worst (in the case of the McLean study) vitiated by “outsized claims and lack of evidence.” Sommers recognizes that the disturbing results of these flawed studies attract journalists, many of whom “prefer disseminating sensational claims to looking for dissenting voices”; she knows, too, that “apocalyptic alarms about looming mental health disasters . . . sell well.” Sommers argues that what alarmists have characterized as “crises” are often simply the evanescent traits typical of adolescents—of both sexes. Sommers is much less convincing, however, when she offers her remedy—a simplistic package of back-to-the-basics instruction and “moral education” to overcome the “socially crude, disrespectful, and untoward behavior” in the public schools (whose “permissive” teachers and administrators she blames for crimes ranging from “intruding into . . . children’s psychic lives” to the shootings at Columbine).

A sharp study that raises troubling questions about the integrity of the research underlying much current educational polemic—and the policies that these polemics have inspired.

Pub Date: June 15, 2000

ISBN: 0-684-84956-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2000

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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