A welcome history of an overlooked milieu, one that provides ample inspiration for art makers today.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Rolling Stone & Kirkus' Best Music Books of 2020

COOL TOWN

HOW ATHENS, GEORGIA, LAUNCHED ALTERNATIVE MUSIC AND CHANGED AMERICAN CULTURE

A carefully constructed history of how Athens, Georgia, became a cultural hot spot.

Everyone’s heard of R.E.M. These days, fewer are familiar with the B-52’s, and almost no one outside the musical cognoscenti knows the Flat Duo Jets and Pylon. All of these bands, writes Hale (American Studies and History/Univ. of Virginia; A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love With Rebellion in Postwar America, 2011, etc.), were ingredients in the cultural stew in which she grew up. The author combines her insider’s perspective with her academic skills, creating a book that is scholarly without being arid, popular without being condescending—a pleasing mix, as were the sounds produced by Athens bands from the late 1970s through the early 1990s. During that period, Hale writes, “the Athens scene produced amazingly good music…but the scene also transformed the punk idea that anyone could start a band into the even more radical idea that people in unlikely places could make a new culture and imagine new ways of thinking about the meaning of the good life and the ties that bind humans to each other.” It wasn’t just bands: The hipster/hippie/bohemian set neatly interacted (and often shared memberships) with the gay community, drawing like-minded people in from the surrounding countryside and outstripping larger cities such as Charleston and Atlanta in building a community in which writers, painters, musicians, poets, and scholars wandered between media and genres. Not much has changed, writes the author. In Athens today, “the currency remains DIY culture,” with primacy placed on the homemade rather than the appropriated. Many of Hale’s cases are happy ones, but some end tragically—e.g., Vic Chesnutt, for whom the Athens scene “worked pretty well…until it didn’t,” whereupon, ever on the verge of fame, he killed himself. He would doubtless be pleased to be included among the many “outcasts or weirdos” whom Hale respectfully recounts. One of Kirkus and Rolling Stone’s Best Music Books of 2020.

A welcome history of an overlooked milieu, one that provides ample inspiration for art makers today.

Pub Date: March 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4696-5487-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

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?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more