One of the best books on college admissions in recent memory.

WHO GETS IN AND WHY

A YEAR INSIDE COLLEGE ADMISSIONS

A veteran higher education reporter pries open the gates to the college admissions process and distills his findings in a book sure to help students and parents navigate their search.

During the 2018-2019 school year, Selingo accompanied admissions officials at Emory University, Davidson College, and the University of Washington as they read thousands of applications, sorted them into admit and reject piles, and then made the painful final cuts. He opens with the closing days of admissions at Emory, where officials received 30,000 applications and were filling the 721 spots left for regular decision applicants after two rounds of early admissions. The author sets the scene to show why lovingly crafted essays get cursory reads and why many students with perfect SAT scores and straight-A records are rejected in favor of applicants that show evidence of leadership and perseverance. Selingo’s message for parents and students: When it comes to admissions, it’s not about you; it’s about the college. “College admissions,” he writes, “is a business—a big one—that you have very little control over. Top colleges are inundated with more well-qualified applicants than they can accommodate.” Admissions officers are looking for the ideal class, one that will enhance the college’s reputation and bring in money. They must assemble the right mix of top students, athletes, legacies, underserved students, and those who can pay the full price of up to $75,000 per year. Selingo, who writes that he is “astonished and frustrated” at the preoccupation with a small group of elite colleges, hammers home several points: Apply to colleges that will actually accept you. Consider what you and your parents can really afford, and carefully scrutinize financial aid offers. Think as much about what you will do once you’re in college as where you will go. In this meticulously researched and evenhanded book, the author provides a unique mix of in-depth reporting, insight, and advice that may save readers needless frustration and thousands of dollars.

One of the best books on college admissions in recent memory.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982116-29-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-80046-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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