A revealing—and disturbing—analysis of a dangerous threat to American democracy.

PASTELS AND PEDOPHILES

INSIDE THE MIND OF QANON

An international security scholar teams up with a psychologist specializing in radicalization to explore the QAnon movement.

QAnon, a congeries of conspiracy theories whose origins lie in a curious blend of popular culture, science fiction, and deep-rooted antisemitism, has swept up millions of people of varying ideologies and levels of education. Bloom and Moskalenko quote David Gilbert from Vice News: “There are highly educated people that fall into these movements, and it is dangerous and remiss to pigeonhole QAnon followers according to educational attainment or social status.” Even so, write the authors, QAnon is a magnet for the mentally ill, particularly people suffering from PTSD, one manifestation of which is “the feeling of not belonging.” Other forms of anomie and detachment are evident throughout the movement. An unusually large segment of members are women, who “have been at the forefront of white racist movements for the past 100 years.” Such women have been responsible for numerous crimes, and those involved in QAnon were well represented in the attack on the Capitol of Jan. 6, 2021. Oddly, the authors note, there are connections between QAnon and the fuzzy New Age movement, which shares a mistrust of corporations, government, and the media and a view that all are dark forces bent on poisoning minds and bodies. With the canonical doctrine that Democrats are satanic pedophiles and that Donald Trump is the only person on the planet who can combat them (and their “Jewish space lasers”), we’re on the dark side of the moon indeed. And it just gets weirder, but more urgent, with QAnon planks that paint Tom Hanks and Oprah Winfrey as agents of a movement meant to destroy the Constitution and enslave those who don’t share their liberal views. The authors close with the note that the madness is contagious and that QAnon views have spread to dozens of other countries.

A revealing—and disturbing—analysis of a dangerous threat to American democracy.

Pub Date: June 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5036-3029-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Redwood Press/Stanford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 19

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more