Smart and closely argued contrarianism, worthy of a Berrigan or Niebuhr. And don’t miss the bonus track: a learned, priestly...




Did Dubya know what mental associations he conjured up when, post–9/11, he promised to launch a crusade against terror? Maybe not. But Al Qaeda got the point—and so did the rest of the Muslim world.

Which is none to the good, writes former Catholic priest and current Boston Globe columnist Carroll (Constantine’s Sword, 2001, etc.). Evoking the Crusades of yore was a mistake, he argues at the outset. “My thoughts went to the elusive Osama bin Laden, how pleased he must have been, Bush already reading from his script,” Carroll writes, provocatively. And how so? For Bush, Carroll hazards, “crusade” was a casual, offhand reference, but for Muslims it would have called to mind hundreds of years of warfare with a millennial Christianity at whose head stood a savior whose cross had been beaten into a sword. Maybe not so offhand, then, for, Carroll writes, “George W. Bush, having cheerfully accepted responsibility for the executions of 152 death row inmates in Texas, had already shown himself to be entirely at home with divinely sanctioned violence.” At once theologian, philosopher, gadfly, and policy wonk, Carroll proceeds, in this collection of Globe commentaries, to poke and probe at the assumptions of the administration, which all seem to have a strange inevitability; after all, he notes, September 11, 1991, was the date on which Dubya’s father announced that a new world order had emerged from the ashes of the Soviet empire. Carroll thoughtfully examines the buildup to the Iraq conflict in the light of Vietnam, a war in which his father prominently served, and he champions in its stead a humane internationalism: “Because a unilateral war formed the core of America’s response to 9/11, the greatest moral shift to have occurred among nations in the twentieth century—the fragile but precious idea of institutionalized international mutuality—has been undercut.”

Smart and closely argued contrarianism, worthy of a Berrigan or Niebuhr. And don’t miss the bonus track: a learned, priestly scourging of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, “a triumph of sadomasochistic exploitation.”

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2004

ISBN: 0-8050-7703-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2004

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


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.


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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