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DARE TO SAY NO

POLICING AND THE WAR ON DRUGS IN SCHOOLS

An approachable consideration of an unexamined aspect of the failed war on drugs.

Intriguing social chronicle of the DARE anti-drug education program.

Felker-Kantor builds on prior work on policing with an account of the stealthy rise and fall of DARE, which began in Los Angeles in 1983 under aggressive chief Daryl Gates. While often ridiculed, the once-ubiquitous DARE programs, which featured officers in uniform as “teachers,” normalized the presence of police in everyday life. “DARE attempted to give the police a human face,” writes the author, “while simultaneously expanding the scorched-earth policing” of the drug war. Felker-Kantor takes an evenhanded approach, showing how DARE benefited many parties, attracting support from educators, politicians, and donors, as well as police officers who emphasized their bonding experiences with schoolchildren. Early on, few noticed how it concealed the racialized mechanics of “zero tolerance” prohibition and normalized the unnecessary presence of police in schools. In the 1980s, DARE expanded in line with the Reagan era’s conservatism, which “placed the family, personal responsibility, and morality at the crux of the drug war.” The author documents how DARE accrued political power as it was franchised nationwide, becoming a nonprofit in 1987, while gaining corporate sponsors and a merchandising arm. “By the mid-1990s, DARE had become a cultural icon of its own,” writes the author, while ignoring the structural roots of drug abuse and how middle-class suburban students’ experience with the program diverged from that of students from marginalized communities. Yet pushback accrued by the late 1990s, due to both parental backlash and studies suggesting the program did not influence behavior. “The continued attention DARE received, whether praise or mocking, demonstrated the deep impact the program had on American society, politics, and culture,” writes the author. While his central points can be repetitive, his straightforward account of DARE’s insidiously authoritarian growth is insightful and instructive.

An approachable consideration of an unexamined aspect of the failed war on drugs.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781469679044

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. of North Carolina

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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A WEALTH OF PIGEONS

A CARTOON COLLECTION

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

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The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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CINEMA SPECULATION

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

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The acclaimed director displays his talents as a film critic.

Tarantino’s collection of essays about the important movies of his formative years is packed with everything needed for a powerful review: facts about the work, context about the creative decisions, and whether or not it was successful. The Oscar-winning director of classic films like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs offers plenty of attitude with his thoughts on movies ranging from Animal House to Bullitt to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to The Big Chill. Whether you agree with his assessments or not, he provides the original reporting and insights only a veteran director would notice, and his engaging style makes it impossible to leave an essay without learning something. The concepts he smashes together in two sentences about Taxi Driver would take a semester of film theory class to unpack. Taxi Driver isn’t a “paraphrased remake” of The Searchers like Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? is a paraphrased remake of Hawks’ Bringing Up Baby or De Palma’s Dressed To Kill is a paraphrased remake of Hitchcock’s Psycho. But it’s about as close as you can get to a paraphrased remake without actually being one. Robert De Niro’s taxi driving protagonist Travis Bickle is John Wayne’s Ethan Edwards. Like any good critic, Tarantino reveals bits of himself as he discusses the films that are important to him, recalling where he was when he first saw them and what the crowd was like. Perhaps not surprisingly, the author was raised by movie-loving parents who took him along to watch whatever they were watching, even if it included violent or sexual imagery. At the age of 8, he had seen the very adult MASH three times. Suddenly the dark humor of Kill Bill makes much more sense. With this collection, Tarantino offers well-researched love letters to his favorite movies of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious eras.

A top-flight nonfiction debut from a unique artist.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-311258-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

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