by Jeffrey C. McGuiness ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 15, 2022
An evocative photographic portrait of Douglass’ childhood environs.
McGuiness’ photographic essay pairs images with Frederick Douglass’ recollections of his childhood years as an enslaved person.
Abolitionist and civil rights icon Frederick Douglass had a gift for writing lyrically about the environment of Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where he grew up as an enslaved person: As he wrote in his memoir My Bondage and My Freedom (1855), “The broad bay opened up like a shoreless ocean on my boyish vision, filling me with wonder and admiration.” In this compelling work, the author uses his own images to visually complement Douglass’ prose, evoking the timelessness and austere beauty of the Talbot County countryside. McGuiness intends the images to establish “a connection between [Douglass’] words and the place that gave rise to a narrative that fundamentally altered the social and political landscape of 19th century America, one rooted in the water, fields, forests, wetlands, and towns of Maryland’s tidewater.” The book traces Douglass’ life through his birth on a farm overlooking Tuckahoe Creek in 1818 to his escape from slavery in 1838, with the author providing clear, concise commentary at the beginning of each section. Much of the area now bears little resemblance to how it existed in the 19th century, but McGuiness argues, “enough remains to hint at what the fields, paths, buildings, forests, and waterways of Douglass’ youth may have looked like during the decades he lived here.” The high-contrast black-and-white images match the quotations from Douglass’ works seamlessly: The “wild and desolate aspect” of Douglass’ home on a Tilghman Island tenant farm is illustrated by an image of storm clouds over the roiling waters of Chesapeake Bay, while a simple image of gum shoots accompanies Douglass’ chilling description of being beaten by the farm’s brutal tenant with “heavy goads” from a gum tree. A few of the photos suffer from being underexposed, but McGuiness succeeds admirably in his stated goal of visually representing the “physical surroundings that shaped [Douglass’] perceptions during those ten years in Talbot County.”An evocative photographic portrait of Douglass’ childhood environs.
Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2022
Page Count: 284
Publisher: Bay Photographic Works
Review Posted Online: March 6, 2023
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.
Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.
Pub Date: July 12, 2022
Page Count: 192
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022
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