BLOODBATH NATION

A harrowing, haunting reflection on the routine slaughter wrought by guns.

The acclaimed novelist lays out how America became a nation terrorized by personal weaponry.  

In this brief but remarkably moving work, Auster blends personal and historical commentary, anecdotal and statistical evidence, sober analysis, and passionate appeals for reform, sketching the origins and present reality of American gun violence. Early in the book, he reveals a disturbing secret: When his father was 6 years old, his grandmother deliberately shot and killed his grandfather in an act attributed to temporary insanity. Auster suggests that this tragedy and its ramifying trauma might be viewed as broadly and uncannily representative of modern American life, where such violence has been normalized by its frequency. The author remains both sensible and compelling in his commentary as he notes the divisiveness of efforts at gun control, and he skillfully summarizes the reasoning and emotional commitments of both pro- and anti-gun activists. His outline of the nation’s historical relationship with guns is astute and memorable, and he persuasively assesses the sociopolitical roots of the “right to bear arms,” the ideological impacts of long-term conflicts with Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans, and the strange oscillations of outrage and complacency that define contemporary responses to mass shootings. Though Auster’s arguments will be familiar to anyone who has followed gun control debates closely, the author’s overview is exceptional in its clarity and arresting in its sense of urgency. The book includes a series of photographs by Ostrander, each of them absent of human figures or any overt suggestion of traumatic events—caption: “Safeway supermarket parking lot. Tucson, Arizona. January 8, 2011. 6 people killed; 15 injured (13 by gunfire).” The photos document the sites of mass shootings and provoke, like the text, disquieting confrontations with the nation’s transformation of all private and public settings into potential sites of violence.

A harrowing, haunting reflection on the routine slaughter wrought by guns.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 9780802160454

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2023


  • New York Times Bestseller

ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2023


  • New York Times Bestseller

A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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

Close Quickview