Herstory with a dash of sarcasm and a wide global and chronological reach.



English novelist and journalist Miles celebrates women’s achievements—some worthy and others dubious—from the French Revolution to the age of #MeToo.

Are feminists running out of neglected trailblazers to hold up for overdue praise? Readers may wonder after reading this curious narrative paean to myriad “extraordinary women” who have “banded together to remake our world.” The author begins with three underappreciated heroines of the French Revolution: Olympe de Gouges, a writer guillotined for sins that included protesting injustices to women; Théroigne de Méricourt, a revolutionary known for “striding around town in a man’s riding clothes and sporting a large hat with a flamboyant phallic plume”; and Pauline Léon, a champion of women’s right to bear arms. Others who merit their entries include Patyegarang, an 18th-century Indigenous woman of Australia’s Eora nation who helped to create the first written record of “the Aboriginal Language of Sydney”; and Katō Shidzue, a Japanese feminist who brought Margaret Sanger to Japan when her country classified ideas about birth control as “dangerous thoughts.” Yet it’s hard to fathom why, among political figures, the author taps Imelda Marcos and Jiang Qing (“Madame Mao”) but not Golda Meir, or why, among aerospace pioneers, she nods to Hitler’s personal pilot, Hanna Reitsch (who embraced “Nazi theories of racial purity”), but not Amelia Earhart or Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova. Miles’ tone sometimes does a disservice to her subjects, as she ranges from matter-of-fact declaration to sarcastic dismissal—e.g., when she corrects herself after mentioning Vietnam’s “French invaders”: “sorry, colonists delivering the benefits of civilization.” Still, this fact-packed chronicle may appeal to younger readers or those seeking a more playful, anecdotal approach to women’s history. The book ends with “The Women’s Manifesto for Equality,” of perhaps less interest to American women than to their sisters in places where feminism still lacks traction.

Herstory with a dash of sarcasm and a wide global and chronological reach.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-244403-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.


The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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