There are countless kernels of amazing achievement and courage throughout this jam-packed, engaging history.




A history of the federal push to bolster women’s rights from successive presidents since John F. Kennedy—and the resulting clashes with traditional conservative constituencies.

With the culmination of the feminist political agenda in 1977 at Houston’s National Women’s Conference, there was a swift conservative reaction, led by Illinois political activist Phyllis Schlafly and her organized minions. In this highly detailed but well-focused account, Spruill (History/Univ. of South Carolina; New Women of the New South: The Leaders of the Woman Suffrage Movement in the Southern States, 1993, etc.) reminds us that in the late 1970s, there were two women’s movements. The first, supported by both Democrats and Republicans, got its impetus from federally sponsored programs like the Kennedy Commission (1963), which revealed “the inequities in public institutions, and the vulnerable situation of homemakers.” Furthermore, writes the author in her assiduously researched narrative, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 became “one of the most important pieces of legislation in advancing gender equity, the basis for many subsequent feminist victories.” On the other hand, more conservative and religious women became alarmed by the tilt toward “liberation” from home and hearth as well as the determination by “libbers” to work alongside men, countenance abortion, and, shockingly, love each other. (The support of lesbianism would rive even the most liberal feminist agenda.) For the feminists, the move to become a party with real political clout occurred with the election of Bella Abzug to Congress in 1971 and the forming of the National Women’s Political Caucus around the leadership of Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and others. As women made staggering inroads into government agencies and other areas under the administrations of Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford (largely thanks to his wife, Betty), the anti-feminists staged a backlash by blocking the Comprehensive Child Development Act of 1971 (publicly funded child care) as the “horrifying first step on the slippery slope toward a godless government invasion of the family.”

There are countless kernels of amazing achievement and courage throughout this jam-packed, engaging history.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63286-314-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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...


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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