A thoughtful, probing look at a national character that is trending ever uglier.



Two Alabaman journalists, one White and one Black, examine the expansion of Southern prejudices into the larger nation.

The Southernization of which journalists Gaillard and Tucker write boils down to racism and White supremacy. This racism has been conservative gospel since at least the Reagan era, when, as one scholar observed, “the views and tools of Southern segregationists had become the official position of the national Republican party.” Chief among those tools are voter-suppression laws to disenfranchise ethnic minorities, and agents of this change include Karl Rove, the master of whispering campaigns that hinted that one Democratic candidate was “a homosexual pedophile”; and the blowhard politico Newt Gingrich, “Donald Trump, but with a higher IQ.” Trump, of course, was an adept follower of Gingrich’s methods: “bitter polarization [and] the combativeness and crude insults that characterize Republican political rhetoric and the tactics of obstruction, including stand-offs over paying the nation’s debts.” However, Gaillard and Tucker show that the true model for Trump was George Wallace, who eschewed Richard Nixon’s “veiled racism” for the real deal, carrying his message of ethnic division and hatred to audiences at rallies across the country, their attendees almost exclusively White blue-collar workers disaffected by the civil rights and anti-war movements. There is another South, of course, and while Trump’s “bigotry, mendacity and sheer incompetence upended a campaign he had expected to be a cakewalk to victory” in 2020, his defeat was caused in part by votes against him in Georgia, Virginia, and the region’s blue urban cores. The struggle will continue, the authors suggest, and likely to bad ends. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. This was Dr. King’s affirmation at the end of the Selma to Montgomery March,” they write. “We are not still sure if we should believe him.”

A thoughtful, probing look at a national character that is trending ever uglier.

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-58838-456-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: NewSouth

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.


Essays on current political topics by a high-profile actor and activist.

Milano explains in an introduction that she began writing this uneven collection while dealing with a severe case of Covid-19 and suffering from "persistent brain fog.” In the first essay, "On Being Unapologetically Fucked Up,” the author begins by fuming over a February 2019 incident in which she compared MAGA caps worn by high school kids to KKK hoods. She then runs through a grab bag of flash-point news items (police shootings, border crimes, sexual predators in government), deploying the F-bomb with abandon and concluding, "What I know is that fucked up is as fundamental a state of the world as night and day. But I know there is better. I know that ‘less fucked up’ is a state we can live in.” The second essay, "Believe Women," discusses Milano’s seminal role in the MeToo movement; unfortunately, it is similarly conversational in tone and predictable in content. One of the few truly personal essays, "David," about the author's marriage, refutes the old saw about love meaning never having to say you're sorry, replacing it with "Love means you can suggest a national sex strike and your husband doesn't run away screaming." Milano assumes, perhaps rightly, that her audience is composed of followers and fans; perhaps these readers will know what she is talking about in the seemingly allegorical "By Any Other Name," about her bad experience with a certain rosebush. "Holy shit, giving birth sucked," begins one essay. "Words are weird, right?" begins the next. "Welp, this is going to piss some of you off. Hang in there," opens a screed about cancel culture—though she’s entirely correct that “it’s childish, divisive, conceited, and Trumpian to its core.” By the end, however, Milano's intelligence, compassion, integrity, and endurance somewhat compensate for her lack of literary polish.

The choir is sure to enjoy this impassioned preaching on familiar progressive themes.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18329-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?


Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

Did you like this book?