Long-winded and slightly nutty in tone, but still an intelligent, lively contribution to the growing awareness that what we...

THE FOIE GRAS WARS

HOW A 5,000-YEAR-OLD DELICACY INSPIRED THE WORLD’S FIERCEST FOOD FIGHT

Evenhanded study of the controversy over how foie gras is produced.

When Chicago restaurateur Charlie Trotter quietly stopped serving foie gras in 2002, convinced by the campaign against the time-honored procedure of gavage (force feeding), he was alternately called a hypocrite and an animal-rights savior. Other chefs took up the gauntlet; activists assaulted U.S. duck liver suppliers in the Hudson Valley and Sonoma County; California and Chicago passed laws against restaurants serving it. (Chicago has since repealed its ban.) Meanwhile, the French, who produce about 80 percent and consume about 90 percent of the world’s goose and duck liver, merely shrugged. Chicago Tribune entertainment reporter Caro, to his credit, remained skeptical of the feverish rhetoric on both sides. He doggedly infiltrated rival camps and interviewed the recalcitrant operators of Philadelphia’s London Grill. He even spent quality time in the Périgord region of France, consuming massive quantities of foie gras while slyly examining the force-feeding process. He found the individual cages objectionable but did not perceive widespread animal stress during cramming. Caro looks carefully at the ethical questions involved in making animals suffer for the culinary arts and suggests one answer might be transparency. If people know how their food is produced and processed, he contends, they will surely make more intelligent and humane decisions about consumption. His too-brief chapter on nonforce-fed foie gras spotlights a subject that merits further attention, as does the response to the controversy of chefs in such major foodie centers as New York and Los Angeles.

Long-winded and slightly nutty in tone, but still an intelligent, lively contribution to the growing awareness that what we eat says a lot about who we are.

Pub Date: March 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5668-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2009

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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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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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