A fascinating chapter in earliest American history, and an example of how far-reaching the ramifications of federal law can...

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ANCIENT ENCOUNTERS

KENNEWICK MAN AND THE FIRST AMERICANS

A gripping account of the discovery and subsequent controversy that surrounded Kennewick Man, a 9,500-year-old skeleton found in the Pacific Northwest.

Anthropologist and forensic consultant Chatters was minding the shop in 1996 when the Benton County coroner came calling with a skull discovered in the nearby Columbia River in Washington state. Although the formation of the jaw and brow suggested to Chatters that the skull was that of a Caucasian (perhaps an early settler in the region who died a century ago), there was a puzzle in the form of an arrowhead (a projectile of a type that’s been out of use for many thousands of years) lodged in the skeleton’s pelvis. Radiocarbon dating revealed the astounding age of the bones; Kennewick Man was one of the most complete skeletons ever discovered from such a remote period. However, his age put him square in the middle of a controversy. Was Kennewick Man, a Caucasoid skeleton not traceable to any existing tribe, subject to the 1990 Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act? If so, he would have to be reburied immediately, with no further scientific examinations. As Chatters relates the case, it is a striking example of how bureaucracy can be manipulated—in this case, by the Army Corps of Engineers and the local tribes who seized and held the skeleton, exhausting deadline after deadline for performing its own studies. After four years of delay, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit found for the tribes, at which point Chatters and eight other scientists sued for the right to examine the skeleton (this “ancient American fossil that even the government’s own experts admit needs to be studied”) before its reburial. Chatters, with true scientific curiosity, then moves into headier subject matter, advancing theories of how Kennewick Man came to be in the Americas, what his society might have been like, and what the projectile in his pelvis might suggest about human conflict in a remote age often painted as idyllic.

A fascinating chapter in earliest American history, and an example of how far-reaching the ramifications of federal law can be.

Pub Date: June 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-684-85936-X

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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