An uneven book about America’s black community that offers provocative ideas.




An author details his search for leadership and his plan to address the continuing effects of slavery.

In this work, Shelton (America’s Little Black Book, 2015, etc.) intends to follow the orders of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and “engage the economic battleground.” In order to do so, the author forms the “foundation-corporation” American Slaves Inc. to spread awareness of his beliefs. He feels it is necessary for the descendants of slaves to reconnect with the roots of the horrific institution: commercial gain. He wants this group, a population he refers to as “American slaves,” to acknowledge that they are a newly bred race who must work together to address the continuing inequality that is a legacy of slavery. Shelton’s main purpose is to encourage these “American slaves” to embrace economic development as a core cultural principle. He emphasizes the need for improved leadership in the black community and increased outreach and assistance from white individuals. The book also serves to document Shelton’s attempts to see his plan reach fruition; it chronicles his various meetings and attempted interactions with black leaders, his decision to run for political office, and his struggles to spread his message nationwide and internationally. Shelton has admirable aims in this book and his concern for his community is clear. But he consistently expresses astonishment when government officials or black leaders are uncomfortable with adopting the term “American slave.” The text also swings confusingly among philosophical discussions, recollections of Shelton’s efforts to confer with black leaders, and descriptions of the author’s other volumes. There are even endorsements for both the current book and Shelton’s previous work shoehorned within the narrative of his steps to gain attention for American Slaves Inc. The largest flaw of the text is that the author uses many pages to dwell on old grudges and flawed leadership. He ruminates on black community leaders and educators who spurned his ideas or who he feels have failed the “American slave” population, and unfortunate incidents with federal figures, such as the time President George W. Bush declined to serve on the board of his organization. This distracts from Shelton’s larger goal, moving his focus from the cultural ramifications of slavery to the personal slights he feels he has endured.

An uneven book about America’s black community that offers provocative ideas.

Pub Date: May 1, 2016


Page Count: -

Publisher: American Slaves, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2017

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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