A lively celebration of women’s potential.




“This is the story about women and age in America,” writes New York Times op-ed columnist Collins (As Texas Goes…: How the Lone Star State Hijacked the American Agenda, 2012, etc.) in a jaunty survey of women’s lives from Colonial days to the 21st century, focusing on the ever changing designation of what counts as old age.

Colonial society valued usefulness, no matter what a woman’s age, and in the 1920s, any woman older than 19 was considered past her prime. Dispatching the 18th and 19th centuries in a handful of chapters, Collins looks at the 20th century decade by decade, enlivening her history with portraits of a wide variety of significant women—for example, the legendary African American stagecoach driver Mary Fields, who was “past fifty when she moved to a Catholic mission in Montana, where she helped out by hauling supplies”; Frances Willard, who wrote a bestseller about learning how to ride a bicycle at 53; and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who published an article about divorce reform two weeks before she died at 86. Some women Collins profiles in her abundantly populated history faced growing older with equanimity; others saw aging as “a problem to be solved through personal effort” that included diet, exercise, cosmetic surgery, and hair dye. In the early 1900s, actress Lillian Russell “announced she was getting in shape through a regimen of rolling over 250 times every morning.” Some women—like activist Jane Addams and Labor Secretary Frances Perkins—defied social expectations by entering business and politics; others believed that women’s place was in the home. During periods of economic stress, especially the Depression, women who worked were condemned for taking jobs away from men. In the 1960s, however, when fewer workers were available because of the low birth rate of the 1930s, more opportunities opened up for older women. As Collins sees it, there was never a time when women’s aging wasn’t controversial and, for some, troubling. But, she adds, “we’re teaching ourselves how to get old in the best way possible.”

A lively celebration of women’s potential.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-28654-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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