A sturdy scholarly contribution to women’s studies and political analysis.

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A CENTURY OF VOTES FOR WOMEN

AMERICAN ELECTIONS SINCE SUFFRAGE

What influences women’s votes?

Following their well-researched study of women voters immediately after the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1919 (Counting Women’s Ballots: Female Voters From Suffrage Through the New Deal, 2016), Wolbrecht (Political Science/Univ. of Notre Dame) and Corder (Political Science/Western Michigan Univ.) extend their inquiry to the present, offering an authoritative academic analysis of how women voted in presidential elections over the last 100 years. After an overview chronicling the fight for suffrage, the authors organize their investigation by historical period: the 1920s and ’30s, marked by a world war and Great Depression; the 1940s and ’50s, when traditional gender roles seemed entrenched; the late 1960s and ’70s, when second wave feminism “challenged and transformed” assumptions about women’s interests and the Voting Rights Act brought African American women to the voting booth; the 1980s, when pollsters discovered the gender gap; and 21st-century elections, ending with the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate. The authors assert that two factors traditionally have been thought to shape women’s voting behavior: distinctive gender (women have “distinctive traits, values, and capacities”) and resource inequality (women have less access to political information than men). Although until the 1960s, women were less inclined than men to vote, in the ’60s and ’70s, the turnout gap “narrowed to nothing,” and women became “more supportive than men of social welfare programs.” In the ’80s and ’90s, women were more likely to vote than men and also more likely than men to support Democratic presidential candidates, whom they deemed more progressive than Republicans. Drawing on abundant research data, the authors reveal that a consistent theme among candidates is that “women’s interests are fundamentally tied to motherhood and the home,” but they argue convincingly—and often densely—that “women are not just one kind of voter and are not mobilized only by their gender per se.” Rather, distinctive gender traits and access to resources intersect with race, employment, education, social class, and religion. “Gender matters,” they write. “It is just not the only thing that matters.”

A sturdy scholarly contribution to women’s studies and political analysis.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-31-663807-1

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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