Eric-Udorie calls to mind a young Audre Lorde, and her anthology feels like a 21st-century version of This Bridge Called My...

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CAN WE ALL BE FEMINISTS?

NEW WRITING FROM BRIT BENNETT, NICOLE DENNIS-BENN, AND 15 OTHERS ON INTERSECTIONALITY, IDENTITY, AND THE WAY FORWARD FOR FEMINISM

A collection that aims to turn feminism’s gaze away from an agenda largely set by privileged white women.

In an eloquent and searing introduction, debut editor Eric-Udorie—an undergraduate at Duke University who was named Elle UK’s Female Activist of the Year in 2017—takes white feminists to task for ignoring the stories, suffering, goals, and power of “women of color, disabled women, queer women, trans women, poor women, and other marginalized groups.” The essays that follow examine everything from films about trans people to the death of Sandra Bland to body hair. Novelist Brit Bennett contributes an especially lyrical piece about the body-spirit dualism she learned as a young black girl in church. British journalist Aisha Gani offers a brilliant reading of the portrayal of Muslim women on TV (“a Muslim woman should not be newsworthy only if she is the first visibly Muslim woman in a particular field”). Several writers consider how political issues not always thought of as feminist problems—e.g., British immigration policy, cuts to Medicaid, the highly flawed American prison system—would look if seen through a feminist lens. One of the most incisive essays is by Frances Ryan, a columnist for the Guardian. She criticizes the way that disability typically features in abortion-rights discourse about abortion, discourse in which the prospect of being forced to raise a disabled child is held up as a specter of ghastliness meant to convince the likes of Phyllis Schlafly that abortion should be legal in at least some cases. This line of reasoning, Ryan notes, bolsters a cultural script in which disability is “something to be avoided at all costs.” She also argues that a feminist approach to reproductive rights that took disability seriously would include a fight to protect the rights of disabled women to raise children.

Eric-Udorie calls to mind a young Audre Lorde, and her anthology feels like a 21st-century version of This Bridge Called My Back.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-14-313237-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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