A brief but significant book that should be in the hands of anyone concerned about the nation's political future.




A notable contribution to the debate about how to reduce the appeal of “pathological populisms” while holding out hope of success in doing so.

As a leading political scientist, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, and former president of the American Political Science Association, Smith’s credentials are impressive. In his latest book, parts of which were presented as part of the Castle Lectures at Yale, he explores how illiberal nationalism can be fought and reconciled to more humane, positive, and optimistic views of human potential and collective existence. In a narrative wide in perspective and rich in context, Smith makes two main points. First, he makes a case for the central importance to a people’s understanding of themselves of the stories they tell about the nations, tribes, and other groups of which they’re members—their “peoplehood.” Regarding the second, which is Smith’s freshest contribution, he argues for the importance of the kinds of stories he believes to be the most effective in energizing and sustaining a population in generous solidarity with each other against the “conservative nationalist political movements and religious traditionalists” who cling to “core, essential identities” in a changing world. “The simple, familiar siren songs of populist nationalisms” should be countered by “the development of more positive, more egalitarian, and inclusive stories of national peoplehood.” What makes a good story of peoplehood? Smith argues that it must be “expressive of [a people’s] identities and interests as well as their ideals” and “resonant, respectful” and arranged to withstand change over time. He then proposes three strong candidates for fitting stories of American nationhood and comes down on the side of Lincoln’s version of the Declaration of Independence as the richest and most enduring.

A brief but significant book that should be in the hands of anyone concerned about the nation's political future.

Pub Date: June 23, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-22939-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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