A witty, comprehensively researched time capsule from an unforgettable age of excess, scandal, and sex.




How multiculturalism and sexual liberation shaped a distinctive decade.

Emmy Award–winning documentarian and Vanity Fair editor Friend (Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11, 2006) meticulously captures the libidinous 1990s through the milestones that made the time period so indelible—and sometimes cringeworthy. The author casts a wide net over the entire decade and encapsulates political shifts and social changes, including the tabloid sensationalism of Donald Trump’s divorce from Ivana, an event that marked the beginning of this heady “high-living, free-spending, balls-out era.” Through key interviews and focused cultural analysis, Friend brings to life the “seismic shifts occurring at society’s core,” such as the rise of Viagra, medically enhanced fertility, the narrowing window of puberty for young women, Camille Paglia and third-wave feminism, the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, gay marriage equality, and the fascinations with breast augmentation and the Brazilian bikini wax. The multifaceted world of entertainment was graced with the outspokenness of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, the antics of Howard Stern, Hollywood psychodramas, and the normalization of perennial plastic surgery. The author also discusses the brave sensuality of Demi Moore’s magazine cover and Ellen DeGeneres’ self-outing as having as much popular culture clout as the surgical precision of scorned wife Lorena Bobbitt and the courtroom circuses involving Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, and Anita Hill. Friend also shows how the mainstreaming of sex and the prevalence of and reliance on the internet for entertainment, pornography, and rapid-fire information (and the conservative, morality fueled backlash) played influential parts in swaying the masses toward less puritanical attitudes about eroticism. The author’s field studies include joining a Manhattan bus tour of Sex and the City filming locations with anthropologist Helen Fisher and enlightening, contemporary interviews with Bobbitt, Jones, Heidi Fleiss, and others. Friend’s clever afterword dovetails the political sins of the 1990s with how their eventual forgiveness ushered in the age of the billionaire as presidential candidate.

A witty, comprehensively researched time capsule from an unforgettable age of excess, scandal, and sex.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-446-55629-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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