A powerful, engrossing look at race and technology.

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THINK BLACK

A MEMOIR

A memoir/social history of a trailblazing father, his headstrong son, and their struggles with racism in the tech industry.

In 1971, Ford (Whiskey Gulf, 2009, etc.) followed his pioneering father’s footsteps through the doors of IBM. Nearly three decades earlier, the elder Ford had become the company’s first black systems engineer, handpicked by the president and founder of the company, Thomas J. Watson Sr. But where his father was a conformist, seemingly unwilling to challenge the racism at the ultraconservative company, the rebellious author, then 19, showed up for work with “a ballooned Afro, pork chop sideburns [and] a blue zoot suit with red pinstripes.” Ford chronicles both his and his father’s careers, from the dawn of the digital age that his father's expertise helped usher in. Frequently at odds, the two men disagreed about Clyde’s future, the war in Vietnam, and the civil rights movement. A masterful storyteller, Ford interweaves his personal story with the backdrop of the social movements unfolding at that time, providing a revealing insider’s view of the tech industry. IBM’s storied past is not without blemish. Ford details the company’s involvement with the Nazis during the Holocaust and with the South African government under apartheid. Whether recounting the domestic drama that played out between his parents or how his father taught him to program IBM’s first computer as a kid, Ford provides a simultaneously informative and entertaining narrative. He delves into historical and contemporary intersections of race, history, and technology to show that technical advancements are never completely bias-free because they are driven by humans, who are inherently biased. Ultimately, Ford learned that his father did challenge the system at IBM in covert but lasting ways. He also gives a call to action to readers to challenge the current lack of diversity in tech as well as the racism that technology is used to perpetuate in society at large.

A powerful, engrossing look at race and technology.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-289056-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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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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