An intensive, timely spotlight on the gender disparities within the modern health care system that falls short on solutions.

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DOING HARM

THE TRUTH ABOUT HOW BAD MEDICINE AND LAZY SCIENCE LEAVE WOMEN DISMISSED, MISDIAGNOSED, AND SICK

A sturdy account of how sexism in medicine is hobbling women’s health care.

When Feministing.com editorial director and lifelong athlete Dusenbery was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, she began an analysis of medical science’s lack of understanding of autoimmune diseases. As she probed further and began hearing stories from women whose health complaints were either dismissed or misdiagnosed, the author developed serious concerns about the lack of attention paid to the potential differences between men and women. She places blame in part on the male-dominated medical industry, which approaches gender gaps and their separate health-related concerns lopsidedly and with a marked lack of knowledge and trust. In her well-informed study, Dusenbery traces the history of women’s medicine and health care activism and presents a wide variety of anecdotal material from women who voice their experiences and their exasperation with a system that remains unsupportive, skeptical, and indifferent when confronted with reproductive issues, pain complications, sex-specific drug reactions, and general well-being. The same applies when addressing diagnostic delays, which can render a suffering woman unable to function in society or physically cope. The author notes that in matters of heart disease and women, the symptoms have been undertreated or misdiagnosed entirely under the universal “male model” platform of the condition. Her analysis progresses into greatly misunderstood issues of chronic pain, migraine disorders, endometriosis, and chronic fatigue syndrome, all supported with engaging stories of women who wound up either being considered “hysterical” or had their suffering categorized as psychosomatic. Within an organized, well-balanced combination of scientific and social research and moving personal stories, Dusenbery makes a convincing case for the need for drastic industry reform and clinical refinement. She also addresses larger issues of gender equality and how to confront a culture of sexism and rampant sexual harassment against women. A final clipped section on solutions, unfortunately, feels insufficient and begs for pages of elaboration.

An intensive, timely spotlight on the gender disparities within the modern health care system that falls short on solutions.

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-247080-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperOne

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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