Salutary portraits in radicalism.

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ROCKIN' THE BOAT

50 ICONIC REBELS AND REVOLUTIONARIES FROM JOAN OF ARC TO MALCOM X

A gallery of historical troublemakers starting with Hannibal and ending with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Fleischer chooses figures who worked, with high visibility but varying levels of success, to overthrow governments, liberate countries from foreign rule or fight for the rights of the oppressed. He arranges his entries by birth date, opens each with an old or period image and spins out career portraits in an occasionally breezy idiom: Julius Caesar’s heir Octavian was “ticked off,” Guy Fawkes was a man “jonesing to fight” Protestantism, and Elizabeth Cady and Henry Stanton were “an activist power couple.” Snarky picture captions (“Emma Goldman is not interested in your nonsense”) and sidebar references to pop culture further lighten the overall tone. Still, the author does not soft-pedal the brutality to which some of his subjects turned, however idealistic they may have started out, or the violent ends to which many of them came. Though the cast is largely European and/or male, it includes such less-well-known male freedom fighters as Metacom (aka King Philip), Maori leader Hone Heke and Daniel Shays and such women as Boudica and New Zealand feminist Kate Sheppard. Suggestions for further reading, a discussion guide and relevant updates will be available online; alas, there are no bibliography or source notes as such, nor is there an index.

Salutary portraits in radicalism. (Collective biography. 11-14)

Pub Date: March 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-936976-74-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of.

SCARED STIFF

50 PHOBIAS THAT FREAK US OUT

Part browsing item, part therapy for the afflicted, this catalog of irrational terrors offers a little help along with a lot of pop psychology and culture.

The book opens with a clinical psychologist’s foreword and closes with a chapter of personal and professional coping strategies. In between, Latta’s alphabetically arranged encyclopedia introduces a range of panic-inducers from buttons (“koumpounophobia”) and being out of cellphone contact (“nomophobia”) to more widespread fears of heights (“acrophobia”), clowns (“coulroiphobia”) and various animals. There’s also the generalized “social anxiety disorder”—which has no medical name but is “just its own bad self.” As most phobias have obscure origins (generally in childhood), similar physical symptoms and the same approaches to treatment, the descriptive passages tend toward monotony. To counter that, the author chucks in references aplenty to celebrity sufferers, annotated lists of relevant books and (mostly horror) movies, side notes on “joke phobias” and other topics. At each entry’s end, she contributes a box of “Scare Quotes” such as a passage from Coraline for the aforementioned fear of buttons.

Sympathetic in tone, optimistic in outlook, not heavily earnest: nothing to be afraid of. (end notes, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-936976-49-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Zest Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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FIVE THOUSAND YEARS OF SLAVERY

Sandwiched between telling lines from the epic of Gilgamesh (“…the warrior’s daughter, the young man’s bride, / he uses her, no one dares to oppose him”) and the exposure of a migrant worker–trafficking ring in Florida in the mid-1990s, this survey methodically presents both a history of the slave trade and what involuntary servitude was and is like in a broad range of times and climes. Though occasionally guilty of overgeneralizing, the authors weave their narrative around contemporary accounts and documented incidents, supplemented by period images or photos and frequent sidebar essays. Also, though their accounts of slavery in North America and the abolition movement in Britain are more detailed than the other chapters, the practice’s past and present in Africa, Asia and the Pacific—including the modern “recruitment” of child soldiers and conditions in the Chinese laogai (forced labor camps)—do come in for broad overviews. For timeliness, international focus and, particularly, accuracy, this leaves Richard Watkins’ Slavery: Bondage Throughout History (2001) in the dust as a first look at a terrible topic. (timeline, index; notes and sources on an associated website) (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-88776-914-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Tundra

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2010

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