A lively model of modern folklore and a must for fans of the original series.

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TRAVELS WITH FOXFIRE

STORIES OF PEOPLE, PASSIONS, AND PRACTICES FROM SOUTHERN APPALACHIA

A welcome rekindling of the Foxfire franchise of books on Southern folkways.

Journalist Hudgins and former Foxfire student Phillips continue the fine tradition of publishing collections of oral history around Southern Appalachian cultural mores begun by teacher Eliot Wigginton in the early 1970s. There are modern wrinkles: Whereas an old-timer in the first edition would have described a ginseng-gathering folk economy with few practitioners and consumers, today the old-timers—i.e., men and women mostly born in the 1950s—recount an industry fueling a large Chinese market, so that, says Georgia master Tommy Hayes, “Some people go through the mountains like a vacuum cleaner,” adding, “but what are you going to do the next year?” In keeping with Foxfire tradition, there’s a little bit of everything in this collection: There are stories about outrunning the revenuers and the well-documented subsequent birth of stock car racing and thence NASCAR, of a “quasi-hippie” Kentucky police officer who once pulled “Elvis duty” to guard Presley on a run to an ophthalmologist’s appointment: “He wanted to buy my revolver, but I didn’t sell it to him.” More to the point, that police officer has since become a man of parts befitting the Appalachians: He makes banjos, knives, rifles, and sculptures, talks philosophy and archaeology, and generally enjoys the self-sufficient life for which the high country is known. Hudgins and Phillips also profile a cook who won the James Beard Award for collecting recipes for smoked ham, buttermilk cornbread, and the like (with a few recipes included here for good measure); a native-daughter historian of the African-American presence in the Southern Appalachians; a game warden, a turkey hunter, a cave explorer, the list goes on. A bonus is a lightly learned but revealing history of the classic mountain song “Man of Constant Sorrow,” itself revived with the 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?

A lively model of modern folklore and a must for fans of the original series.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-43629-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Anchor

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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