Slow going at times, but with some fascinating characters and anecdotes.

READ REVIEW

TEENAGE

THE CREATION OF YOUTH CULTURE

From the author of England’s Dreaming (1992), a dense cultural history of adolescence from 1875 to 1945.

Savage’s choice of timeframe for this work makes the point that the concept of adolescence as a separate stage of life is not recent. To demonstrate how different Western nations have conceptualized and utilized youth, he draws on diaries, newspapers and magazines, novels, movies, advertisements and psychological and sociological literature, particularly G. Stanley Hall’s two-volume 1904 work, Adolescence. Savage opens with fervid entries from the diary of an imaginative, articulate Russian teenager living in France, followed by the flat statements of a 15-year-old Massachusetts youth who committed a series of horrific murders, both recorded in 1875. These polar opposites, the author argues, “showed that it was no longer adequate to think that adulthood immediately followed childhood; they were the harbingers of a new intermediate state that as yet had no name.” Savage then follows the twists and turns of youth culture through seven decades, examining urban gangs, the Boy Scouts, socialist and religious youth groups, young soldiers embittered by their role as cannon fodder in World War I, the Roaring ’20s exuberant jazz babies and Nazi Germany’s militaristic Hitler Youth. In the United States, awareness of adolescence coincided with the growth of the mass media and the rise of consumerism; youth styles were spread by movies, radio, magazines and ads. Savage analyzes the impact of such real and fictional characters as Baden-Powell, Peter Pan, Dorian Gray, Rudolph Valentino, even the murderous Leopold and Loeb. In conclusion, he points to adolescents’ economic clout and asserts that the postwar spread of American values has been spearheaded by pleasure-seeking teenage consumers. While Savage focuses on the young, he paints a broad social and cultural portrait.

Slow going at times, but with some fascinating characters and anecdotes.

Pub Date: April 23, 2007

ISBN: 0-670-03837-7

Page Count: 576

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more