Zeitz does create a picture of a United States undergoing a sexual revolution and experiencing urbanization, an expanding...

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FLAPPER

A MADCAP STORY OF SEX, STYLE, CELEBRITY, AND THE WOMEN WHO MADE AMERICA MODERN

If the United States became modern in the decade after the First World War, a popular symbol of that modernity is the flapper, a scantily clad, frivolous young woman whose newfound freedom from restrictive clothing represented a way of life free of Victorian social strictures.

Zeitz (American History/Cambridge Univ.), a contributing editor to American Heritage magazine, has undertaken to chronicle the rise and fall of this icon of modernity through the lives of those who exemplified her and those who promoted her. The author devotes considerable space to the life of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who is variously credited with inventing her, discovering her and/or exploiting her, as well as to that of his wife Zelda. Also sketched in considerable detail are the lives of the women who portrayed her on the silver screen—Colleen Moore, Clara Bow and Louise Brooks—those who wrote about her—New Yorker columnist Lois Long, among them—and those who drew her—fashion artist Gordon Conway and cartoonist John Held. Also profiled are the fashion designer Coco Chanel, whose designs defined her slender silhouette, and Bruce Barton and Edward Bernays, who used her image to promote the sale of consumer goods. The result is a work that feels unduly padded, stuffed full of extraneous facts. These certainly provide color, but it is not clear what Hemingway’s jealousy of Fitzgerald, the fact that Louise Brooks claimed to have slept with Greta Garbo or that Lois Long typed her columns stripped to her slip have to do with the subject.

Zeitz does create a picture of a United States undergoing a sexual revolution and experiencing urbanization, an expanding consumer culture and a booming economy, but he burdens it with an excess of irrelevant particulars.

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 1-4000-8053-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2006

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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