Keizer casts a broad net, gathering data from numerous sources in time and space, but his take-home message is simple—for a...

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THE UNWANTED SOUND OF EVERYTHING WE WANT

A BOOK ABOUT NOISE

The history of six millennia of human-produced noise and an examination of its political and cultural implications today.

Harper’s contributing editor Keizer (Help: The Original Human Dilemma, 2004, etc.) cites the Epic of Gilgamesh as the first recorded instance of humans being too noisy for their own good—civilization’s uproar was so unbearable to the gods that they decided to destroy it. Using anecdotes and stories gathered from individuals, as well as insights from such experts as physicists, engineers, musicologists, physicians and psychologists, the author ranges wide in his exploration of the phenomenon of noise. It is, he argues, a defining force in our world. Often dismissed as a “weak” issue, a minor nuisance, noise is often an expression of power, and it is the lives of the weak, or powerless, that are affected most. The din of the developing world, writes Keizer, is greater than what the richer nations will ever experience. However, “[i]f we equate noise with power and clout…America is the loudest country in the world today, probably the loudest that has ever existed. And yes, I love my country, even as I also love midtown Manhattan, my chainsaw, and the Rolling Stones.” A wind farm near Mars Hill, Maine, a motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D., a jazz festival in Newport, R.I.—all are examples of what may be a lovely sound to someone and unbearable noise to another. Although Keizer focuses mostly on the United States, he also looks abroad, citing examples of noise and its control in the Netherlands, Ireland, Japan and other countries. In addition to extensive notes, the back matter contains a glossary, decibel ratings of common sounds, a list of organizations that deal with noise and a section offering strategies for handling noise disputes.

Keizer casts a broad net, gathering data from numerous sources in time and space, but his take-home message is simple—for a better, more pleasant world, tone it down.

Pub Date: May 4, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-58648-552-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2010

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

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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