A well-written, critical overview of feminism’s real contributions, useful and timely in an age of backlash and...

TIDAL WAVE

HOW WOMEN CHANGED AMERICA AT CENTURY’S END

Has feminism been a failure, as some of its critics have charged? Did it die in the 1980s? Certainly not, writes historian Evans in this fine overview of its many achievements.

Consider, she urges, the early ’60s, when a woman could not take out a loan without her husband’s signature, when graduate schools openly imposed quotas restricting women to ten percent of the student body, when “it was perfectly legal to pay women and men differently for exactly the same job and to advertise jobs separately.” In just two decades, a committed body of women from many economic, ethnic, and political backgrounds (including a Republican activist who fondly recalled a 1977 caucus in Houston as something about which far-flung attendees now reminisce “in the same way war veterans, strangers on sight, quickly become close as they talk about Normandy, Inchon, or Hué”) joined forces to challenge separate-and-unequal policies and programs throughout society. At first, writes Evans (Born for Liberty, 1989, etc.; History/Univ. of Minnesota), these early feminists met with opposition on the part of most politicians and the media, which proved to be “condescending if not hostile,” yet they managed to hold a united front and eventually to achieve some signal victories while sustaining a few failures, such as the still-troubling defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment in Congress. By the ’80s, she observes, even against Reaganite and Christian Coalition hostility, the women’s movement had changed enough minds that “the simple appearance of a woman in a position of authority no longer provoked disbelief.” Challenges remain today, she concludes, not least of them contending with the tensions inherent in trying to balance demands for decentralized action with the need to use government “as an instrument of social policy”—female activists, Evans adds, tend far more than their male peers to view government as a positive, necessary force.

A well-written, critical overview of feminism’s real contributions, useful and timely in an age of backlash and antifederalist sentiment.

Pub Date: March 3, 2003

ISBN: 0-02-909912-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2002

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

NIGHT

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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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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