An engrossing anthology of work, full of intimate details, from veterans of magazine journalism.

THE STORIES WE TELL

CLASSIC TRUE TALES BY AMERICA'S GREATEST WOMEN JOURNALISTS

An anthology of landmark long-form articles written by female journalists.

Sims, herself a published journalist, has put together an anthology of magazine pieces by female writers. Some of the names will be well-known to readers—Joan Didion, Susan Orlean, Gloria Steinem. The essays contrast with each other in meaningful ways: murderers and survivors of murder attempts, famous and little-known figures in American history, high school students and a woman dying of Alzheimer’s. The caliber of work makes this collection a master class in the sort of long-form journalism that is published in magazines like the New Yorker and Vanity Fair, where many of these pieces were first seen. The diversity of subjects illustrates the breadth of work that is done by female journalists; it includes subjects and topics that historically might have been assigned to male journalists (such as “Soul Survivor,” Isabel Wilkerson’s profile of Black Power activist Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael). There is a helpful table of contents with summaries of the stories, and short biographies of the writers precede each piece. Some essays were published recently, like “Yuja Wang and the Art of Performance,” Janet Malcolm’s profile of the young concert pianist from 2016, and others are older, like “Mrs. Kennedy at the Moment,” Gloria Steinem’s profile of Jacqueline Kennedy’s life after JFK’s assassination, which ran in 1964. (It would have been helpful if the book listed where and when each piece originally ran.) Standout stories aside from those already mentioned include “The Last Day,” Robin Marantz Henig’s story of a woman determined to end her own life after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and “The Cheerleaders” by E. Jean Carroll, a heartbreaking account of a connected series of murders and suicides in Dryden, New York. Particularly wrenching is the description of a young survivor who yelled into the author’s tape recorder, “This is reality, people! This really happened, OK?” It brings the emotional work these writers do sharply into focus.

An engrossing anthology of work, full of intimate details, from veterans of magazine journalism.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 385

Publisher: The Sager Group

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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