An uneven examination of a topic that continues to require vigilant attention.

CITADELS OF PRIDE

SEXUAL ABUSE, ACCOUNTABILITY, AND RECONCILIATION

The renowned philosopher looks at the intersection of toxic male pride and sexual abuse and harassment.

Nussbaum explains that her latest book discusses legal technicalities to encourage fair judicial solutions: “So when you think that this text is abstract, please try to remember that it embodies a noble moral idea!” But much of the book is more journalistic than scholarly, and in a section on NCAA sports, the author sounds more like Bob Costas in a reflective mood than a public intellectual. Nussbaum fairly argues that sexual abuse involves “treating people as things,” which reflects overweening pride, and legal remedies such as “victim impact” statements can “taint a criminal trial with retributive overreach,” jeopardizing the process. The author clearly shows how toxic masculinity infects three “citadels of pride”—the federal judiciary, the performing arts, and the “diseased” world of college sports. Nussbaum perceptively notes, for example, that Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and James Levine were taken to task only when they were “too old and ill to make money for others any longer.” In her most controversial chapter, the author urges Division 1 colleges to limit the abuse by replacing their football and basketball programs with the kind of minor league teams that exist in baseball. Nussbaum’s sections on sports suggest that she’s strayed too far from philosophy to write with her usual aplomb. In those chapters, the writing is flatter, and her argument about college football doesn’t fully consider the vastly different situations between major programs like Alabama and Ohio State (many of which are unquestionably diseased) and smaller D-1 schools, where eliminating athletic scholarships could have negative consequences for students who are otherwise unable to attend college. Many readers, however, won’t care that this is not her best work: There’s a variety of insights to be gleaned from any Nussbaum book, and her comments here are sure to set sports-talk radio shows on fire in Tuscaloosa, Columbus, and beyond.

An uneven examination of a topic that continues to require vigilant attention.

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00411-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

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PERSIST

The Massachusetts senator and financial reformer recounts several of her good fights over the years.

Famous for being chided for “persisting” on the Senate floor, Warren is nearly a byword for the application of an unbending, if usually polite, feminism to the corridors of power. Though she has a schoolmarm-ish air—and indeed taught school for much of her life—she gladly owns up to liking a beer or two and enjoying a good brawl, and she’s a scrapper with a long memory. In 2008, when she shopped a proposal to found a federal agency that “could act as a watchdog to make sure that consumers weren’t getting cheated by financial institutions,” she encountered a congressman who “laughed in my face.” She doesn’t reveal his name, but you can bet he crosses the hall when she’s coming the other way. Warren does name other names, especially Donald Trump, who, with Republicans on the Hill, accomplished only one thing, namely “a $2 trillion tax cut that mostly benefited rich people.” Now that the Democrats are in power, the author reckons that the time is ripe to shake off the Trump debacle and build “a nation that works, not just for the rich and powerful but for everyone.” She identifies numerous areas that need immediate attention, from financial reform to bringing more women into the workplace and mandating equal pay for equal work. Warren premises some of these changes on increased taxes on the rich, happily citing a billionaire well known for insider trading, who complained of her, “This is the fucking American dream she is shitting on.” The author reverts to form: “Oh dear. Did I hit a nerve?” Warren’s common-sensical proposals on housing, infrastructure development, and civil rights merit attention, and her book makes for a sometimes-funny, sometimes–sharp-tongued pleasure.

A lively and thoughtful memoir that, one hopes, will inspire readers to pursue activism in every realm of society.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-79924-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A pithy, upbeat memoir by a self-described romantic feminist.

THE SOUL OF A WOMAN

The popular Chilean novelist shares life's lessons.

Approaching 80, Allende offers wise thoughts on aging, romance, sex, love, and, above all, her feminism—which began in kindergarten, when she saw her mother, abandoned with three small children, forced to become dependent on men. “I became obsessed with justice,” writes the author, “and developed a visceral reaction to male chauvinism.” Angry and often rebellious, Allende was “expelled from school—run by German Catholic nuns—at age 6, accused of insubordination; it was a prelude to my future.” Thankfully, her doting grandfather, although “the unquestionable patriarch of the family,” encouraged her abilities; “he understood the disadvantages of being a woman and wanted to give me the tools I needed so I would never have to depend on anyone.” Married at 20 and soon a mother of two, Allende felt stifled until she joined the staff of Paula magazine, where writing provided an outlet for her restlessness. The author charts the evolution of her own “fluid, powerful, deep” feminism as it relates to her self-image. While she refuses “to submit to the Eurocentric feminine ideal—young, white, tall, thin, and fit,” she does “jump out of bed an hour before everybody else to shower and put on makeup because when I wake up I look like a defeated boxer.” Now happily married to her third husband, Allende claims that “love rejuvenates” and that after menopause, life gets easier, “but only if we minimize our expectations, give up resentment, and relax in the knowledge that no one, except those closest to us, gives a damn about who we are or what we do.” Buoyed by the “spiritual practice circle” she dubs the “Sisters of Perpetual Disorder” and involved in a foundation dedicated to empowering vulnerable women and girls, Allende is ultimately joyful: “My theory and practice is to say yes to life and then I’ll see how I manage along the way.”

A pithy, upbeat memoir by a self-described romantic feminist.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-35562-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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