by Kit Heyam ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 13, 2022
A capable, worthy demonstration of how the history of disrupting the gender binary is as long as human history itself.
An eye-opening study of the history of gender nonconformity.
In this highly informative text, Heyam, a U.K.–based queer history activist and trans awareness trainer, tells a wide variety of pertinent stories that are often left out of the trans narrative. Many of the ideas that the author explores don’t fit cleanly inside our contemporary notions of trans identity, which is usually able to be verbally confirmed and often includes medical, social, and cultural transitions. Heyam makes the compelling argument that just because people in the past may not have had access to medical transition procedures or modern vocabulary to adequately discuss gender doesn’t mean their experiences outside the gender binary should be ignored. “To say sex and gender are both socially constructed,” writes the author, “isn’t to say they’re not real—like other social constructs, including race, money and crime, they have material and life-changing consequences for all of us—but it is to say there’s no innate reason we have to think about them in the way we do.” The author draws from a remarkable array of historical examples, expanding the definition of what we should consider trans history along the way. Among other eras and locales, Heyam takes us to ancient Egypt, the Edo period in Japan, and a World War II prisoner camp on the British Isles. With great sensitivity and care, they discuss the deleterious effects of European colonization over hundreds of years, the modern Western desire to separate gender and sexuality, and the intersex community. While clearly the work of a diligent historian, the text avoids feeling too dry and is a relatively accessible read. The author’s historical and topical range is impressive, and only a few of the sections are disjointed. Overall, the book will fascinate anyone interested in a subject that many readers likely misunderstand.A capable, worthy demonstration of how the history of disrupting the gender binary is as long as human history itself.
Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2022
Page Count: 352
Publisher: Seal Press
Review Posted Online: July 25, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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