Concise, incisive, and provocative.

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ANTIGONE RISING

THE SUBVERSIVE POWER OF THE ANCIENT MYTHS

A professor of Hellenic studies offers a feminist take on major myths from antiquity.

Ancient Greek myths are significant parts of the narratives that undergird Western democracy and culture. Morales, the author of Classical Mythology: A Very Short Introduction, reinterprets old myths with an eye to “recognizing entrenched cultural patterns,” especially where the treatment of girls and women, the environment, and minorities are concerned. The author opens by discussing the story of the Amazons in relation to a male undergraduate who killed two female students (and four others) as revenge for years of sexual rejection. Just as Greek mythology celebrated the killing of women warriors, so too does modern society continue to condone acts of violence toward women, especially those who exercise their personal autonomy. A less violent but no less harmful way that patriarchy controls women is through the imperative to diet. By taking Hippocratic quotations—e.g., “extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases”—out of context, patriarchal culture disciplines (primarily female) bodies into submission to often unattainable standards of beauty. Furthermore, as suggested in the story of Uranus’ abusive treatment of Gaia, men are “meant” to dominate both women and the Earth. Later in the book, Morales shows how modern renderings of old myths resist not only misogyny, but racism and transphobia. The author argues that Beyoncé’s music video “APESHIT” actively challenges assumptions about whiteness and beauty inscribed in the marbled form of the Venus de Milo. “Filmed inside the [Louvre]…it is an exhilarating six minutes whose stunning images and sharp juxtapositions of ancient and modern reflect upon race, art, and resistance,” writes Morales. Ali Smith’s novel Girl Meets Boy transforms an Ovidian story about sex changes that align with heterosexual norms to one that emphasizes “the dissolving of gender boundaries.” Engaging and well-researched, this book reveals how canonical narratives that appear to uphold (white) patriarchy can be reclaimed to benefit the very groups that patriarchy attempts to suppress.

Concise, incisive, and provocative.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-56858-935-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bold Type Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

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WHY WE'RE POLARIZED

A sharp explanation of how American politics has become so discordant.

Journalist Klein, co-founder of Vox, formerly of the Washington Post, MSNBC, and Bloomberg, reminds readers that political commentators in the 1950s and ’60s denounced Republicans and Democrats as “tweedledum and tweedledee.” With liberals and conservatives in both parties, they complained, voters lacked a true choice. The author suspects that race played a role, and he capably shows us why and how. For a century after the Civil War, former Confederate states, obsessed with keeping blacks powerless, elected a congressional bloc that “kept the Democratic party less liberal than it otherwise would’ve been, the Republican Party congressionally weaker than it otherwise would’ve been, and stopped the parties from sorting themselves around the deepest political cleavage of the age.” Following the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, many white Southern Democrats became Republicans, and the parties turned consistently liberal and conservative. Given a “true choice,” Klein maintains, voters discarded ideology in favor of “identity politics.” Americans, like all humans, cherish their “tribe” and distrust outsiders. Identity was once a preoccupation of minorities, but it has recently attracted white activists and poisoned the national discourse. The author deplores the decline of mass media (network TV, daily newspapers), which could not offend a large audience, and the rise of niche media and internet sites, which tell a small audience only what they want to hear. American observers often joke about European nations that have many parties who vote in lock step. In fact, such parties cooperate to pass legislation. America is the sole system with only two parties, both of which are convinced that the other is not only incompetent (a traditional accusation), but a danger to the nation. So far, calls for drastic action to prevent the apocalypse are confined to social media, fringe activists, and the rhetoric of Trump supporters. Fortunately—according to Klein—Trump is lazy, but future presidents may be more savvy. The author does not conclude this deeply insightful, if dispiriting, analysis by proposing a solution.

A clear, useful guide through the current chaotic political landscape.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0032-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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