MAKING HISTORY

THE STRUGGLE FOR GAY AND LESBIAN EQUAL RIGHTS, 1945-1990

Rich and often moving oral history by participants in the gay- rights movement. Marcus (The Male Couple's Guide to Living Together, 1988—not reviewed) speaks to people from street hustlers to ministers, beginning with those who remember the early post-WW II era, when being homosexual was a crime or, at best, considered a mental disorder. The testimonies of Hal Call, Martin Block, ``Lisa Ben,'' Barbara Gittings, and other founders and early members of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis—both launched in the 1950's as social-outreach, quasi-political organizations- -demonstrate the real dangers and frustrations of being gay in America. There are numerous anecdotes of infighting and power struggles, but also of the police and FBI harassment that gave rise to the militancy of the Gay Liberation Front in the 1960's and 70's and, currently, of ACT UP. There are compelling reminiscences of ``coming out''; of often sleazy and dangerous gay ``clubs''; of political activism and the 1969 Stonewall riot in Greenwich Village, which galvanized gays across the country; of the antigay backlash of the 1980's and 90's; of tragic losses from suicide and AIDS. But Marcus also records stories of empowerment and triumph, such as the 1973 decision by the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and the appointment by then-governor Jerry Brown of gay attorney Herbert Donaldson to a California judgeship. At times shocking, but often enlightening and inspiring: oral history at its most potent and rewarding. (Twenty-five pages of b&w photos—not seen.)

Pub Date: June 3, 1992

ISBN: 0-06-016708-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1992

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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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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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