Though it lacks the stinging punch of Thompson, the book is a useful snapshot of a tumultuous presidential race.



The 2016 election finds the author on a search for the real America.

Sexton (Creative Writing/Georgia Southern Univ.; I Am the Oil of the Engine of the World, 2016, etc.) found himself in the political cross hairs when some of his reportage on the Trump campaign drew attention—and even death threats—from his supporters. “Trump wasn’t the cause, he was the disease personified,” writes the author, and then continues, “Trump’s true talent was finding the pulse of these ignorant, livid people and playing them like a virtuoso strumming an instrument.” Yet these people are as recognizable to Sexton as his own family and the blue-collar milieu in which he was raised, and he understands how and why Hillary Clinton couldn’t connect with them. He has more of an affinity for Bernie Sanders, who inflamed the passions of the left just as Trump had with the right and whose campaign went from making a statement to a surprisingly strong bid for victory. The author reserves his deepest exasperation for those purists of the far left who refused to see a significant difference between Trump and Clinton and who even turned on Sanders when he attempted to unify the party. “They were purists,” he writes. “To them, there was right and then there was wrong.” Sexton’s campaign coverage comes from a ground-floor, grass-roots perspective. The only convention that gave him press credentials was that of the Green Party, so he generally writes from the periphery, among the crowds who sometimes seem more like mobs at the rallies. Whatever he learned didn’t make him more prescient, since pretty much until election night, he strongly believed (as did millions of others) that “Donald Trump will not be president.” His book sometimes feels like a leftist counterweight to Hillbilly Elegy, laced with shots of Hunter S. Thompson, and it’s clear that Sexton couldn’t believe what he had seen until it was too late.

Though it lacks the stinging punch of Thompson, the book is a useful snapshot of a tumultuous presidential race.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-956-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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