Well-crafted and thoroughly documented, this is a must-read for parents, teachers, and anyone of either sex who cares for...



An authoritative debunking of the notion of a gendered brain.

In her debut book, Rippon (Cognitive Neuroimaging/Aston Univ., Birmingham) examines sex-difference research and finds a dismaying history of bad science and an abundance of design flaws, inadequate controls, and innumeracy. Neurosexism abounds, she asserts, citing studies and naming names with assurance and a touch of acerbity. She calls misconceptions about gender differences “whac-a-mole” myths: Mistaken assumptions, she writes, have “been variously whacked over the years but can still be found in self-help manuals, how-to guides and even in twenty-first-century arguments about the utility or futility of diversity agendas.” Further, research findings are often misinterpreted by the press, creating in the public imagination an inaccurate picture of the so-called “male” or “female” brain. Rippon notes that the view of a gendered brain, which has a long history, is stubbornly persistent today. She cites both social psychologist Gustave Le Bon’s 1895 declaration that women “represent the most inferior forms of human evolution” and Google engineer James Damore’s 2017 blog about the biological causes for the absence of women in technology. Looking at numerous scientific studies, the author sees surprisingly little evidence for brain sex differences in newborns. Rather, she argues, the differences in behavior and interests between boys and girls, and men and women, can be explained by the impact of a gendered world on the human brain. As she notes, gender clues surround children from birth. Attitudes and unexamined assumptions can be toxic, and toys, sports, clothing, and colors have a powerful impact. Young children, writes Rippon, are social sponges, especially attuned to social rules, and their experiences in a pink-vs.-blue world can change the way their brains form. Ultimately, her message is that a gendered world will produce a gendered brain. The result, unfortunately, is that boys and girls are shaped with different expectations and are often driven down career different paths.

Well-crafted and thoroughly documented, this is a must-read for parents, teachers, and anyone of either sex who cares for children.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4702-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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