An engaging memoir of not just a fascinating woman, but a history of a movement.



The memoir of a Black Nationalist, reformer, and lawyer.

Taifa’s life reflects the dual story of a reformer on the inside of a discriminatory system and that of a Black Nationalist revolutionary. As such, her memoir takes readers to dining room tables accompanied by Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, to early Kwanzaa celebrations at the Temple of the Black Messiah, and to behind-the-scenes meetings of the Black separatist Republic of New Afrika, while later taking them to the Roosevelt Room of the White House, to meetings with Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and to Taifa’s work as a policy analyst for billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. Personally involved in a variety of Black Nationalist groups in the 1970s, and later working for decades as a lawyer advocating criminal justice reform, Taifa’s memoir is not just a retelling of her own life’s story, but serves as a vital history of the post-1960s fight for Black liberation. It is, in her own words, “part memoir, part textbook, part study guide, part exposé,”[xii] as she weaves her own story into the wider history of Nationalists like H. Rap Brown, Angela Davis, Chokwe Lumumba, and Assata Shakur. The work also discusses a more internal struggle of a Black Nationalist woman who spent years “on the cutting-edge of revolutionary action,” but whose legal career for change inside the system often requires her to play the part of a “responsible” reformer.[4] Nor does she hold back on her personal life, openly discussing her experiences with sexual abuse, two failed marriages, and a frantic hunt for a missing sex-tape. Nearly every chapter is richly adorned with historical photographs or snapshots of the author with an assortment of Black revolutionary celebrities. Original poetry, mostly centered on Black Nationalist and Pan-African themes, is similarly sprinkled throughout her narrative. While Taifa’s bold attempt to tell both her own story and that of a larger history of the Black experience can be at times cumbersome, this is nevertheless a powerful, important book.

An engaging memoir of not just a fascinating woman, but a history of a movement.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 396

Publisher: House of Songhay II

Review Posted Online: Aug. 11, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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