A brave new work of compelling research.




An elucidating, somewhat startling study of how early German tolerance and liberalism encouraged homosexual expression.

Anti-sodomy laws were unevenly applied in the German confederation of states before imperial unification in 1871. In this singular, persuasive work, Beachy (Yonsei Univ., Seoul; Soul of Commerce: Credit, Property, and Politics in Leipzig, 1750-1840, 2005, etc.) traces the legal and medical precedents to increased tolerance of same-sex love, especially in Berlin before 1933. Despite the recommendation by medical experts against the archaic anti-sodomy statue (they argued that “male-male sexual relations” were “no more injurious than other forms [of illicit sexuality]”), the law was upheld in the Prussian-led unification, largely due to a horrific assault in the Invalidenpark, which swayed public opinion. Nonetheless, a lawyer who had been advocating for same-sex rights through his writings, first anonymously and under threat of scandal, then by his real name, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, momentously addressed the Association of Jurists in Munich in 1867, protesting the anti-sodomy laws. Part of the stupendous reach of Ulrichs’ writings on homosexuals was due to the lax censorship laws of the Leipzig publishers, “who dominated the German-language book trade.” Ulrichs’ work would later inspire Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld in the founding of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee in Berlin—what Beachy calls the first homosexual rights organization. Moreover, in Berlin, the police commissioner Leopold von Meerscheidt-Hüllessem took a rather laissez faire enforcement policy toward what came to be at century’s end a proliferation of homosexual bars and drag costume balls (“homosexual” being a neologism coined by another German journalist and activist, Karl-Maria Kertbeny in 1869). These events were often used for tours so that the city became a kind of “laboratory of sexuality.” Beachy looks at the roles of blackmail and criminality, the rise of homoerotic youth groups in Weimar Germany and an accompanying anti-Semitic reaction.

A brave new work of compelling research.

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-27210-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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