Sure to garner newfound respect for an essential yet greatly underappreciated workforce.

PICKING UP

ON THE STREETS AND BEHIND THE TRUCKS WITH THE SANITATION WORKERS OF NEW YORK CITY

A deserving profile of the hardworking folks who work a particularly dirty job.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, refuse collection is the seventh most hazardous occupation. Nagle (Anthropology and Urban Studies/New York Univ.), the New York Department of Sanitation’s first-ever anthropologist-in-residence, confirms this with insightful information on both the job itself and the men and women who scour New York City’s streets. The physically strenuous work of the garbage collector encompasses the three-part official mandate of collection, disposal and snow removal. Though these distinct laborers receive “scant notice and even less praise” for collecting citywide refuse, Nagle writes, most are dedicated to their unique livelihood and faithfully adhere to the many restrictions of the trade, including the non-acceptance of tips, the rigorous written and physical exams, and the “instant termination” drug policy. Nagle points out that it’s our “lushly consumptive economy and culture” keeping these reliable workers in business, since, without them, “the city becomes unlivable, fast.” Her head-to-toe immersion in the sanitation process included manning a garbage-collection route and often exasperatedly reporting that the job is less a matter of on-the-job perils and more about the early-morning start times and the sheer physical resiliency required for successful employment. Nagle takes the science of scavenging seriously, as evidenced by her postgraduate seminar “Garbage in Gotham,” which included a tour of the colossally expansive Staten Island Fresh Kills landfill. Her multifaceted analysis alludes to the impermanent nature of the things we own, including our own bodies, and how the sanitation worker performs just one key component of that intricate transmogrification.

Sure to garner newfound respect for an essential yet greatly underappreciated workforce.

Pub Date: March 19, 2013

ISBN: 978-0374299293

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Jan. 6, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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