For fans of all things Southwestern—not quite as robust and thoughtful as Craig Childs’ House of Rain (2007) but a pleasure...

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THE LOST WORLD OF THE OLD ONES

DISCOVERIES IN THE ANCIENT SOUTHWEST

More travels in the Southwest of yore by outdoorsman/writer Roberts (Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration, 2013, etc.).

There’s a place in southern Utah, not far from the Grand Canyon and closer still to the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Canyonlands, where, before 2002, the author had never been—unusual, since he’s scrambled up and down most of the rugged terrain in the Four Corners states over the last four decades or so. Interestingly, most of his “desert-rat cronies” hadn’t been there, either. More interestingly still, as he chronicles here, neither had many ancient people, save for a few outlier Kayenta Anasazi from down south who eventually “gave up on Kaiparowits…[and] returned to their homeland.” Roberts, a keen student of the region’s anthropology, takes time to wonder why, noting that in the last 15 years, interest has grown, with ever more sophistication in our understanding of the many ethnic and cultural groups that contributed to regional prehistory and their far-flung network of connections. Roberts also traveled nearby to the hidden lattice of canyons where vast numbers of Fremont Culture remains were recently formally cataloged, having been “protected by a single private owner” instead of the complex of laws surrounding what are called “cultural resources.” The author journeyed to places that have been overrun and ransacked by private collectors and protected, if sometimes too late, by the long arm of federal authority. Throughout, Roberts does two things: He stands on the land himself, affording armchair travelers a fine view of the place, and he scours vast stacks of scholarly literature to give us an up-to-date take on the minefield that is historical interpretation, with scholars coming just short of blows over angels-on-pinheads sorts of questions. Credit the author for including plenty of interesting photos, as well.

For fans of all things Southwestern—not quite as robust and thoughtful as Craig Childs’ House of Rain (2007) but a pleasure to read.

Pub Date: May 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24162-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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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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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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