Will appeal to sociologists and students of cultural studies and behaviors.



An academic consideration of the cultural meanings behind increasing surveillance and post–9/11 securitization.

Lewis (American Studies/Univ. of Texas; Navajo Talking Picture: Cinema on Native Ground, 2012, etc.) sets out “to ask difficult questions about the weirdness and weariness of living under the blanket of surveillance technology.” He is clearly fascinated by its pervasiveness, and he argues that the traditional suspicion of surveillance ought to be reconsidered, that “the sustained and subtle impact of surveillance” adds richness of experience and even “fun” to our lives. Lewis explores these concepts in six long chapters, wide-ranging in topicality, from the overall expansion of CCTV networks to the resonance of Thoreau’s ideas within today’s surveillance state. He first establishes the emotional effect of overlapping types of surveillance, now integrated into our lives in venues ranging from nanny-cams to documented police shootings. “Surveillance conducted by citizens, or sousveillance, is supposed to shield us from the worst abuses of the state,” he writes. In the aptly named “Welcome to the Funopticon,” Lewis discusses the classic surveillance literature of George Orwell and Jeremy Bentham alongside his thesis that the provocative, public nature of surveillance is enriching us, noting, “what has not been fully understood is how much pleasure is driving this expansion of surveillance into our daily lives.” Elsewhere, the author contrasts the solemnity of the 9/11 memorial with the frenetic civic paranoia the attack unloosed, exemplified by the phenomenon of “sacred security” companies. These organizations fortify conservative evangelical Christian churches against doomsday scenarios, and they are experiencing rapid growth, like all connected with the surveillance industry. Lewis can write perceptively and with power, as in an autobiographical section reflecting on the social surveillance of his hardscrabble 1970s suburban childhood, but he also falls back on a synthesis of scholarly reading and theory that may not fully engage lay readers, in terms of current controversies and real-world relevance.

Will appeal to sociologists and students of cultural studies and behaviors.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4773-1243-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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