Although this volume amply reveals the author’s attention to language and commitment to politically engaged journalism, many...

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AFTER THE TALL TIMBER

COLLECTED NONFICTION

A collection of articles by an outspoken writer.

Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Wolff (The Man Who Owns the News: Inside the Secret World of Rupert Murdoch, 2008, etc.) gathers 20 pieces of Adler’s nonfiction, published between 1965 and 2003, which serve as a witness to history and evidence of her hard-hitting journalism. In the 1960s and ’70s, Adler was prominent, opinionated and often controversial. Her career, Wolff writes, went “wrong, or at least astray…primarily for not being able to hold her tongue.” In 1968, working as a book reviewer for the New Yorker, she “no longer saw the point of reviewing other people’s books” unless they were important. When the New York Times offered her a post as movie critic, she took that, only to become irritated by the obligation to review movies she thought unworthy of attention, her editors’ stylistic strictures and the newspaper’s objection to her “excessively scathing” reviews. She quit after 14 months, returning to the New Yorker, where she continued as a staff writer for 40 years. Articles on the Six-Day War; the 1965 civil rights march in Selma; a Black Power march in Mississippi, with deft cameo portraits of Stokely Carmichael and Martin Luther King; and Ronald Reagan’s nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court represent some of her work there. When the New Yorker changed ownership in 1985, Adler made enemies by writing a book that was harshly critical of its new editors and several prominent writers. She made more enemies after publishing an 8,000-word article in the New York Review of Books excoriating Pauline Kael’s When the Lights Go Down, a collection of her reviews. Adler deemed the book “piece by piece, line by line, and without interruption, worthless.” Adler’s nonfiction has been available in other collections, whose introductions are included in this one.

Although this volume amply reveals the author’s attention to language and commitment to politically engaged journalism, many pieces seem dated, and a few are tediously long.

Pub Date: April 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59017-879-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: New York Review Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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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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A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE

Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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