A sermon to the converted, but good fuel for arguments with the Republican next door.




Forget about blood for oil: this war’s about everything else, an excuse to loot the treasury at home as much as any wealth abroad.

So argues Piven (Political Science/CUNY; Why Americans Don’t Vote, not reviewed) in this vigorous but slight and not altogether satisfying essay. Her overarching thesis—that George Bush’s war on Iraq and the one on terror are aspects of a war on liberal society and the social welfare state—is, in the main, unobjectionable and unsurprising, and she capably shores it up with pointed observations on just how curious this Iraq war is, anyway: Where previous American wars have yielded the expansion of democratic rights, a kind of sop to the working people who have to bear the sacrifices of blood and dollars, “this period is markedly different,” characterized by tax cuts for the rich while “social welfare programs are being cut, both at the federal and the state level, and even some veterans’ benefits have been reduced.” Piven is probably correct to characterize this war as imperial, even though the jury’s still out; indeed, as she wisely notes, it is already fulfilling the dreams a little-known bureaucrat named Paul Wolfowitz announced in 1992, when he “called for a permanent American military presence on six continents capable of establishing and protecting a new world order.” All this war-making and empire-building, Piven argues, shores up the Republican right wing, but it exposes the whole enterprise as that sop “delivered to the big business interests that backed the administration and its party.” Fair enough, but it would be good to start naming names here, and Piven provides too few specifics, offering little in the way of sustained analysis but turning up interesting nuggets along the way: the fact, for instance, that Bush scored big with Arab-American voters in 2000 but has lost his following in the wake of the Patriot Act.

A sermon to the converted, but good fuel for arguments with the Republican next door.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2004

ISBN: 1-56584-935-3

Page Count: 176

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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