The late master of gonzo journalism and dispenser of drug-addled opinion returns with this collection of his pieces for Rolling Stone magazine. 

There was a time when Rolling Stone was hip, and Thompson (Kingdom of Fear, 2003, etc.), made it more so, even as he turned the world of straight journalism on its head. In 1970, he wrote his first piece for the magazine, a twisted manifesto/report on his campaign for a new kind of mayor in Aspen, Colo.: “Our program, basically, was to drive the real estate goons completely out of the valley…No more land rapes, no more busts for ‘flute-playing' or ‘blocking the sidewalk’….zone the greedheads out of existence.” (Thompson records that he lost by only six votes.) He followed with a closely reported, quietly angry piece on the murder-by-cop of Los Angeles activist and fellow reporter Ruben Salazar: “When he went to cover the rally that August afternoon, he was still a ‘Mexican-American journalist.’ But by the time his body was carried out of the Silver Dollar, he was a stone Chicano martyr.” After that piece, the going quickly turned weird as Thompson embarked upon his “Fear and Loathing” series of misadventures, the best (and best-known) of them being the immortal, howlingly funny Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas, followed by a superbly bizarre take on the Super Bowl and then, in 1992, a similarly wild piece recounting a supposed romp with Clarence Thomas in the outback of Nevada: “What the hell? I thought. It’s only rock & roll. And he was, after all, a Judge of some kind…Or maybe not. For all I knew he was a criminal pimp with no fingerprints, or a wealthy black shepherd from Spain.” Included here are numerous lesser-known pieces as well, among them an elegant obituary for Timothy Leary, one of the “pure warriors who saw the great light and leapt for it.” Much of this work is available in earlier collections such as The Great Shark Hunt, but that doesn’t make this any less essential—a fine gathering by one of the best writers of our time.


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-6595-9

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2011

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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.


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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