A passionate, lucid, and necessary memoir, then and now.

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MEMOIR OF A RACE TRAITOR

FIGHTING RACISM IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH

A reprint of the author’s account of her work as a white lesbian “thinking race, feeling race, acting against racism” in the American South.

First published in 1994, this memoir tells the highly topical story of how Segrest (Emeritus, Gender and Women’s Studies/Connecticut Coll.; Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice, 2002, etc.) developed intersectional feminist consciousness and struggled against far-right extremism in North Carolina. As a member of a conservative Alabama family, the author began questioning white privilege when she witnessed the intense struggles black students faced during forced integration in the early 1960s. A decade later, she came face to face with her own minority status when she realized she was gay. During the 1970s, Segrest gravitated to feminism but quickly saw that its ideologies were as classist as they were racist and heterosexist. The author then evolved a socialist consciousness that regarded misogyny, homophobia, and racism as byproducts of capitalism, and she eventually realized that liberation movements “separate people as much as bring them together.” This understanding became the cornerstone of her work at the intersection of race, class, and gender. Her “race traitor” activism during the 1980s and ’90s led her to forge fraught but necessary alliances with black activists in North Carolina while speaking out against the Ku Klux Klan for its acts of white supremacist violence. Segrest also worked for justice in hate crimes against members of the gay community, but the extreme homophobia she encountered in the more conservative parts of North Carolina sometimes meant having to keep her sexual orientation hidden. She presciently concludes that unless Americans understand and take action against the legacy of “racism…homophobia…hatred of Jews and women [and] greed,” it will “sicken us all.” Twenty-five years later, in the shadow of increasing worldwide white nationalism and hyperpredatory capitalism, Segrest’s reflections are exceptionally chilling, fresh, and urgent.

A passionate, lucid, and necessary memoir, then and now.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62097-299-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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