Part memoir, part social history, and sure to become the definitive book on the politics, culture, and economics of black...

TWISTED

THE TANGLED HISTORY OF BLACK HAIR CULTURE

A historical and personal exploration of why black hair isn’t “just hair.”

From white plantation mistresses shaving enslaved women’s heads as punishment to present-day federal court rulings declaring it legal to fire black employees for wearing natural hairstyles, black hair is political. In her study of black hair cultures, BBC race correspondent Dabiri observes how, across continents and centuries, people of African descent have been subjected to “scrutiny, fetishization, or censure, and sometimes all three, because of our hair.” Black hair, writes the author, has been deemed inferior and “difficult to control” and used as a justification for discrimination. Dabiri blends thorough research with incisive commentary and artful memoir. “My own hair has been disappointing people since my birth,” she writes. Growing up Irish Nigerian in Ireland in the 1980s and ’90s, her hair was a constant source of shame and trauma. Today, in Ireland and elsewhere, black hair is still, in many cases, considered taboo. Meanwhile, the Kardashian-Jenners make millions appropriating black hair and aesthetics. Though peppered throughout with engaging pop-culture references, the book is also a deft geopolitical and economic meditation. What might Africa and her descendants have become if not for the horrors of the trans-Atlantic slave trade and colonialism? Given the abiding influence of racism and colonialism, how do we liberate and decolonize black hair? Dabiri explores the current natural hair movement and looks back at the complex successes and legacies of the first black female millionaires: early black hair care entrepreneurs Madam C.J. Walker and Annie Turnbo Malone. Compelling and engrossing, this book will satisfy readers familiar with the sizzle of the straightening comb as well as those who aren’t.

Part memoir, part social history, and sure to become the definitive book on the politics, culture, and economics of black hair. (b/w illustrations)

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-296672-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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