Wilde will not convince readers that the Amazon existed—at best, she will leave them wondering why they plowed through her...

ON THE TRAIL OF THE WOMEN WARRIORS

THE AMAZONS IN MYTH AND HISTORY

An unsatisfying Cook’s tour of Amazon legends.

Filmmaker and broadcaster Wilde suggests that the Amazon myth is not so mythical after all. The women of the Amazon, legend has it, were powerful, fierce fighters who lived without men—once a year they sought out male company in order to reproduce, but for the other 364 days they were fine on their own. They do not, it turns out, come from the river Amazon in South America; rather, the Amazon women first appear in ancient Greek writings. Wilde begins her survey with etymology, examining the two theories about the origin of the word “Amazon”: it is either Greek (“without breasts”) or Armenian (“moon-women”). Wilde then turns to the ancient Greek sources. Herodotus, the “father of history,” claims that Greeks took Amazon women captive and put them aboard ships to bring them home as slaves. In the middle of the Black Sea, however, the women rose up and overcame their captors, and they eventually landed on the shores of the Sea of Azov and settled down with the Scythians who already lived there. The 17th-century Jesuit Cristobal de Acuña claimed that he encountered Amazon women in South America. It was said that men visited them at certain times of the year and had sex with them in hammocks; the Amazons raised the daughters that resulted from these couplings, but they were rumored to kill their sons. Wilde examines 20th-century commentators, too: Eva Meyerowitz, a scholar of the matriarchal society of the Akan people, claimed to have met real Amazon women in her African travels. Though some feminists and lesbians have reclaimed the legacy of the women, most feminists are put off by their “masculine” penchant for violence. The most satisfying section of the book is the last few pages, where Wilde turns her attention to the legacy of the Amazons.

Wilde will not convince readers that the Amazon existed—at best, she will leave them wondering why they plowed through her anticlimactic, derivative survey.

Pub Date: July 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-312-26213-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2000

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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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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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