Nothing new or particularly provocative in this retelling of well-known stories.

BEATLES VS. STONES

A history professor makes a case for a professional and artistic rivalry between the two bands but presents no new evidence and reaches no absolute verdict.

“Who wants yesterday’s papers?” Mick Jagger sang with the Rolling Stones and then answered his own question: “Nobody in the world.” The framing of this book’s title requires the analysis by McMillian (History/Georgia State Univ.; Smoking Typewriters: The Sixties Underground Press and the Rise of Alternative Media in America, 2011) to end with the disbanding of the Beatles in 1970, before dismissing the Stones’ “outlandishly undignified” money grab as an oldies band and concluding abruptly with the murder of John Lennon. The author’s tone balances the academic (“Rock ’n’ roll had always been a popular and performative art”) with the colloquial (“At least the Beatles didn’t break up because they started to suck”). But what the author describes as “a joint biography” offers little except for occasionally misguided opinion and unsupported conjecture that far more exhaustive and deeply reported biographies of each band (and its individual members) have illuminated. Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the Beatles weren’t the lovable, cuddly mop tops of their popular image and that the Stones were more patrician than naughty in comparison with their purported rivals (who usually appeared to be pretty good friends, or at least foxhole buddies). It isn’t much of a critical stretch to show that the Stones often seemed to follow a Beatle template in terms of their creative progression. What skews the parallel analysis is that the Stones reached their peak as recording artists after (though not because of) the Beatles’ breakup, leading to speculation such as, “even if the Beatles had stayed together, some find it hard to imagine that their output in the very early 1970s would have matched what the Stones accomplished. Of course we’ll never know.”

Nothing new or particularly provocative in this retelling of well-known stories.

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4391-5969-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2013

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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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.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

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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