Told with deep affection and respect, a thoroughly engaging “journey down journalism’s blue highways.”




A Peabody and Emmy Award–winning correspondent reports on the indignities, difficulties, delights and occasional triumphs of small-town newspapering.

Newspapers may be dying, but don’t tell that to Muller (Journalism/Univ. of Southern California; Now This: Radio, Television…and the Real World, 2000)—or to the editors of the Guadalupe County Communicator, the Canadian Record, the Mountain Eagle, the Anderson Valley Advertiser, the Canyon Country Zephyr, the Dove Creek Press, the Big Horn County News or the Norwood Post papers, among the many the author visits along her diverting, informative trip. In tough economic times, these newspapers still get by on ads and subscriptions, providing local news for tiny communities who can’t get that information anywhere else. In small towns—there are over 8,000 weeklies in the United States—newspapers still matter. Sometimes the stories are serious: the school superintendent who unilaterally decides to censor books at the high school, the district-attorney candidate who hides a cocaine habit, the child beaten to death by a single mother’s live-in boyfriend, the beloved local doctor arrested for stealing Indian artifacts from public land, or the elected school board that insists on doing business behind closed doors. Sometimes they are complex: the controversy over a newly built, never-occupied, multimillion-dollar detention facility in Montana that pits one town’s paper against the nearby Crow Tribe’s house organ and stirs up longstanding grievances in the land of Custer. More often, the news hole is filled by club doings, guest column or the three staples of local reporting for which Muller offers a delightful lesson in decoding the small-town style: school sports, where mythmaking and hyperbole rule, the obituaries, where euphemism reigns, and the police blotter, where the decision to name names underscores the special burden of small-town editors everywhere—“they have to live there, too.” Very occasionally under threat of violence, more often facing social isolation or financial pressure, these rural journalists’ devotion to truth-telling keeps the First Amendment alive and communities connected in grassroots America.

Told with deep affection and respect, a thoroughly engaging “journey down journalism’s blue highways.”

Pub Date: July 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8032-3016-3

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Univ. of Nebraska

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2011

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


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

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