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WEAPONS OF MASS DELUSION

WHEN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY LOST ITS MIND

An important investigation into the radicalization of far-right American lawmakers.

An engrossing and disturbing examination of the conspiracy theories leading up to the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and the right-wing lawmakers who gleefully perpetuated them.

Journalist Draper has interviewed many of the protagonists floating the baseless theories that, as election-denier Marjorie Taylor Greene believes, “their once‐great country [is] under assault from within.” The author digs deep into the “big lie” and how conservative conspiracy theories took root and began to run rampant during the Obama administration—questioning the former president’s birthplace and demonizing Hillary Clinton—all in an effort to obstruct any Democratic progress in Congress. Draper considers many important strands in the story, including “enabler” Kevin McCarthy’s raw ambition and transactional relationships on Capitol Hill; how Greene tapped into the right-wing hysteria in her Georgia district and effectively rode former President Donald Trump’s coattails; and the vast network of absurd QAnon conspiracy theories: a pizza-parlor sex-trafficking operation, the importance of fighting against the work of George Soros, the idea of a complicit, “mockingbird” media, and the cheerleading role played by Alex Jones and InfoWars. As the author shows, Paul Gosar, a Republican congressman and dentist whose district in Arizona is one of the most conservative in America, became the first and most vociferous of the “Stop the Steal” election deniers, while Greene spent months vilifying Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Biden administration’s attempts to mitigate the disastrous effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Draper also explores Liz Cheney’s defiance of McCarthy and MAGA extremism, especially her view that the second impeachment trial represents a dangerous missed opportunity for Republicans to move past Trump once and for all. In a timely and politically astute narrative written before the midterm elections, Draper suggests that voters have grown tired of the “arc of the crazy”—a view borne out by the election results.

An important investigation into the radicalization of far-right American lawmakers.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 9780593300145

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2022

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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