A study, Buckley writes, that was 14 years in the making—and it shows. Well-written, vigorous, and aptly titled, this...




A first-rate history of African-Americans in the military.

Journalist Buckley, daughter of singer Lena Horne, comes from a long line of soldiers who took part in the Revolution, the Indian Wars, WWI, and other conflicts throughout American history. As Buckley writes, African-Americans were generally made to feel unwelcome (if useful cannon fodder) in the military between the years of the Revolution and the Korean War, when President Truman formally integrated the armed services. Buckley begins her sweeping narrative with the black fighters of the Revolution, ignored in standard history texts but honored by the likes of Washington and Jefferson in their time for having “knocked the British about lively.” Among the other early, forgotten patriots of whom she writes is Joseph Savary, a hero of the War of 1812 who helped Andrew Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans; having been ordered not to take part in the victory parade, he angrily denounced American racism and logged time in the pirate trade with Jean Lafitte before heading south to join Simon Bolivar's army. Another is William Carney, who fought with the 55th Massachusetts (the sister regiment of the storied and bloodied 54th) and was the first black fighter to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Most of Buckley's narrative, however, is given to events of the 20th century, from WWI to the invasion of Iraq; a key figure in her text is Colin Powell, who rose through the officer corps to assume a key leadership role in the military (and is now the Secretary of State). If there is an overarching theme to Buckley's narrative, it is that military service offered African-Americans a means of improving their lives; “by helping make history,” she writes, “they fought racism” and overcame prejudices in other branches of society.

A study, Buckley writes, that was 14 years in the making—and it shows. Well-written, vigorous, and aptly titled, this deserves the widest possible readership.

Pub Date: May 22, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-50279-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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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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