Vivid evocations of a place, its women, and how they live.

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WOVEN ON THE WIND

WOMEN WRITE ABOUT FRIENDSHIP IN THE SAGEBRUSH WEST

From the editors of Leaning into the Wind (1997), an anthology of women’s poems and essays that celebrate friendship in the High Plains, where winter comes early and distant neighbors become family.

Some of these pieces are by published writers, others are first efforts; some are about remarkable relatives, others about unlikely strangers who changed their lives—but all share a love for the place itself, the life lived there, and the friendships that have sustained them. “Here we form friendships that we expect to last the rest of our lives,” observes Shannon Dyer. This is not Starbucks territory: these women train horses, deliver calves, and hike high mountain trails. They know how to handle guns as well as write poems. Many are ranchers, wives, or daughters of ranchers, and they live on the land that stretches from Alberta to the Mexican border. They make chokeberry jam together, get together for a girls’ night on the town, and go deer hunting together. Some, like Dorothy Blackcrow Mack, recall the lessons they learned from older women such as her Black Crow mother-in-law Emma (who taught her how to pick sage for the sweat lodge, butcher cattle, and cook native dishes like “puppy soup”). Betty Downs recalls how the stories of Ione (who as a young shepherdess “learned how to be lonely”) helped her as a new bride. Many recall friends who died, mothers who suffered from mental illness (counseling programs didn’t exist in rural towns in the 1940s), and the closeness of family life. Susan Austen and Laurie Kutchins eloquently describe the spirit of a land where “the wind clicks across the emptiness . . . winter shakes its body over the bare and lovely hills,” and friendship is “forged out of its drifts, its dust and mud and shadows.”

Vivid evocations of a place, its women, and how they live.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-395-97708-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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