A practical primer for those seeking to reduce the hegemony of bias in everyday life.

THE END OF BIAS

A BEGINNING: THE SCIENCE AND PRACTICE OF OVERCOMING UNCONSCIOUS BIAS

Is it possible to end biases, personal and institutional? Science journalist Nordell believes so, but it will require plenty of work.

Nordell, a longtime student of prejudice and its origins, observes that there is a gulf “between the values of fairness and the reality of real-world discrimination,” a gulf defined by the term implicit or unconscious bias. It is costly: Undervaluing women, ethnic minorities, or other marginalized groups deprives society of potentially valuable contributions on the parts of those who are discriminated against. While recognizing that many barriers are deliberate, Nordell argues that most people don’t set out to make the sharp distinctions that engender them; the biases truly are unintended and, while learned, largely unexamined. The author’s case studies include a transgender research scientist who, having transitioned to a male, found that his abilities were far more valued than when he was female; an Asian American man who lacked math skills but was promoted into jobs that assumed he was a stereotypical numbers whiz; and an imaginary Black teenager who, presented to White audiences as having “behaved in an antisocial way,” was assumed to be a future felon and therefore more deserving of punishment than a White peer accused of the same thing. Nordell’s examples are revealing but lead to the same general set of conclusions, so there’s a certain sameness to the narrative that becomes more pronounced as it progresses. More useful are some of the recommended remedies, including “mindfulness meditation”—which, when adopted by one Oregon police department, led to a rapid decline in the use of force and citizen complaints—and counseling approaches that minimize shame while building awareness of bias and the motivation to imagine others' perspectives. "Colorblind" approaches, she writes, can backfire. These efforts pay off, she writes. Trust builds, relationships deepen; in a business context, “racially diverse teams where all employees were able to feel psychologically safe enough to learn from one another outperformed homogenous teams."

A practical primer for those seeking to reduce the hegemony of bias in everyday life.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-18618-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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