A detailed, if overly defensive, analysis of 50 years of hippie culture.

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Happily Hippie

UNDERSTANDING, CELEBRATING, AND DEFENDING A LIVING ETHNICITY

Dougan argues for the continued relevance of hippies in this work of popular social science.

The hippies, with their roots in the 1960s American counterculture, have given the world many things, from the popularization of the environmental movement and organic food to the introduction of yoga and meditation in the West and figures such as Jim Henson and Steve Jobs. In this debut book, Dougan argues that the hippies have never gone away, despite attempts by the media to undermine them and by the political right to demonize them. He writes that “we can’t understand modern American politics and history” without the hippies; “it’s like watching a play, and since one of the most important characters is invisible or can’t be acknowledged, we’re puzzled.” Over the course of the book, he attempts to convince readers that hippies bear all the characteristics of an ethnic group and that they’re persecuted by mainstream society, even as they offer it prized cultural contributions. He then goes into hippie-specific issues—yes, including marijuana—and calls for the creation of a “Hippie-American” ethnic organization to promote social equity for its members. Dougan’s case for the continued existence of a vibrant counterculture is persuasive. However, he runs into trouble with his insistence on referring to hippies as an ethnicity (albeit a “synthetic” one). His comparisons to nondiscretionary ethnicities, such as the Amish, and the persecution they face are likely to rub many readers the wrong way, which undermines Dougan’s larger argument about hippies’ importance. The author sees neoconservatives as his primary adversaries (and mentions them with frequency), but the more damaging critique of hippies in 2016 is likely to come from critics on the left, who have noted that hippies were and are predominantly white people who’ve appropriated a lot of material culture—from ponchos to rock music—from marginalized groups. There are likely better ways of acknowledging the contributions of hippies without granting them ethnic-minority status.

A detailed, if overly defensive, analysis of 50 years of hippie culture.

Pub Date: Aug. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5246-0765-4

Page Count: 592

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 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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