An insightful look at contemporary America.

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UNION

A DEMOCRAT, A REPUBLICAN, AND A SEARCH FOR COMMON GROUND

On road trips across the country, two friends confront their deeply held beliefs.

Making their book debut, former Marine Blashek, now an investor in New York City, and Haugh, a journalist who was an intern in the Obama White House and served on the State Department’s Policy Planning Staff, recount the evolution of their friendship, and their views about America, as they traveled to 44 states over the course of three years. The authors met at Yale Law School, and though they thought one another interesting and sympathetic, they found themselves frustratingly enmeshed in “suffocating ideological debates, politics, and the drawing of lines.” Blashek, a Republican, was quick to defend Donald Trump from attacks, suspicious of Haugh’s liberal stance. Haugh, raised by an activist single mother in Berkeley, “had grown up among protests.” While Blashek believed that Trump’s policy on immigration stemmed from a commitment to protect Americans from criminals, Haugh insisted that Trump was racist and, moreover, stoked racism among his followers. “Disagreements lingered,” the authors write, growing “deeper and more painful” as their arguments intensified. In 2017, with their plans for the future in flux, they decided to set off in search of the nation they felt they hardly knew. Their travels took them to a Trump rally in Phoenix, one week after the Charlottesville incident, where, to their surprise, Trump delivered “a script of unity and hope.” Despite protestors and heavily armed militiamen, they witnessed people engaged in passionate—but respectful—argument, unlike the conflicts reported by the media. “They were actually listening to one another,” the authors note. As they traveled, discovering communities bound by “a deep reservoir of social capital,” they learned that “finding common ground wasn’t about getting to agreement. It was about getting to the point where disagreement didn’t matter as much.” Both men, genial guides, ended their travels with a sense of hope about “how [things] could be if we act together to make it so.”

An insightful look at contemporary America.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42379-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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