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APOLLO'S ARROW

THE PROFOUND AND ENDURING IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON THE WAY WE LIVE

A welcome assessment of the reality of the epidemic that has changed our lives.

An authoritative analysis of the Covid-19 pandemic, from its beginning to its hoped-for end.

Sociologist and physician Christakis, who directs the Human Nature Lab at Yale, offers a cogent, deeply informative overview of the coronavirus pandemic, taking into consideration the biology of the pathogen and the social, economic, psychological, and political impacts of the virus on society. Drawing on scientific, medical, and sociological research, he assesses the transmission of the virus, responses worldwide, and prognosis for the pandemic’s end. In addition, he places Covid-19 in the context of past epidemics: plague in ancient Athens, the Black Death in medieval Europe, polio epidemics in 1916 and the 1950s, influenza in 1918, and HIV in the 1980s. “It’s very important to emphasize that, as bad as COVID-19 is,” writes the author, “it’s not remotely as bad as epidemics of bubonic plague, cholera, or smallpox that have killed much larger fractions of the population and that have had much larger and longer-lasting effects.” Nevertheless, he underscores the disastrous effect of inadequate responses, especially from the Trump administration: a “botched” rollout of early tests, lack of coherent national strategy, and repeated “denial and lies.” It’s inarguable, he writes, that “the lack of scientific literacy, capacity for nuance, and honest leadership hurt us.” Christakis emphasizes the importance of wearing masks and enforcing social distancing, two interventions that slow the spread of the virus, which is essential while treatments and vaccines are being developed. While acknowledging “colossal uncertainty” about the future of the pandemic, he predicts that at least until 2022, Americans will live in a changed world. It will be necessary to wear masks, abstain from shaking hands, avoid crowds, and receive medical care online rather than in person. Hopefully, he writes, “one of the unexpected impacts…may be that a society that feels besieged by the threat of the virus will increasingly treat scientific information, and not just scientists, seriously.”

A welcome assessment of the reality of the epidemic that has changed our lives.

Pub Date: Oct. 27, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-62821-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown Spark

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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