A flaky journey into the heart of dimness that is the Men's Movement. Jastrab, an instructor at a survival school and a guru of the Men's Movement, offers (with freelance writer Schaumburg) his own and others' experiences of the Vision Quest. Appropriated from traditional Native American spirituality, the quest is a central ritual of the movement. Jastrab discovered the importance of the rite while in the Utah desert, when he felt the overwhelming presence of ``feminine power.'' Later, after being introduced to Native American teachings, he knew he must unite the roles of priest and naturalist. The stories related stem from a series of retreats conducted by Jastrab in the Adirondacks of New York between 1982 and 1993. The ritual as practiced by Jastrab combines a wilderness trek with prayer, self-purification, storytelling, ancient myth, Native sweat lodges (a favorite New Age sauna), and- -literally—howling at the moon. He admits that all this really amounts to is men, alone together as men, acting ``like a bunch of damn fools.'' It even involves what he calls ``ritual humiliation.'' A credo of his teaching is ``No foolishness, no growth.'' The goal is to reconnect men to images of manhood in the living earth and in the Great Mystery. Besides corrupting a lot of indigenous American wisdom, the quest also involves the legends of the Holy Grail and the Fisher King, and animistic talk of Rock People and Pan and satyrs. Quotes from gurus and heroes of the New Age and the Men's Movement such as Robert Bly and Carlos Castaneda abound. There are also passages written by retreat participants and signed with the Indian names they take, such as Earth Drum Dancer, Stands By His Heart, and Soaring Eagle. This utter silliness would be offensive if it weren't so funny. Yet the reader will be constantly and wincingly aware that the authors are perfectly earnest.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-06-016945-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1994

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


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.


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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