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A SANDHILL MEMOIR

The hardworking and long-suffering wife of an early Wisconsin ecologist delivers an impressive if occasionally long-winded account of economic survival and ecological commitment during the Depression. Both an autobiography and a paean to her husband, Grange's narrative is filled with unrelentingly hard labor, tragic reversals, and, ultimately, vindication. In the teeth of the Depression, Wallace Grange left a federal post in Washington, D.C., dragging a loyal, generally uncomplaining Hazel to northern Wisconsin to raise pheasants. Never profitable, the venture was marred by two house fires, an ambitious but financially unsuccessful rabbit trapping and shipping operation (hence the title), and a continual struggle with bad roads and harsh weather. Moving farther west into central Wisconsin, the Granges purchased some 15 square miles of marshy farmland where they slowly began to restore the ecosystem to its presettlement condition, and establish a viable game farm with natural habitat for deer, grouse, prairie chickens, and muskrats, among other species. Along the way, Wallace Grange, a contemporary and friend of the naturalist Aldo Leopold, authored several landmark studies arising from his work with wildlife and ecosystems. Grange, however, concentrates not on her husband's science but on their struggles and victories, played out against the backdrop of a time when modern technology had made few inroads and the science of ecology was as yet poorly understood. Written for publication in the '50s but not issued until now, Grange's musings are quaintly styled, with a number of creaky, outdated allusions and clichÇs; a blow-by-blow report of her husband's longstanding, finally triumphant battle against the Wisconsin Conservation Commission's attempt to unfairly revoke the couple's game farm license is tiresome, as are some running observations about inquisitive tourists. Still, there is plenty to be learned about a time when hard work did have its rewards and when couples stayed together through hardships and disagreements; and animal lovers, especially, will find delight in Grange's memoirs.

Pub Date: June 1, 1996

ISBN: 1-883755-08-5

Page Count: 356

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1996

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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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