Everything you ever wanted to know about the current nuclear-weapon landscape.

Worries about nuclear Armageddon, on the back burner for decades, seem to be reviving.

In early November 2023, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia was revoking its ratification of the 1996 global nuclear test ban treaty. In this astute assessment of the current situation regarding nuclear weapons, Scoles, a contributing writer at Popular Science and author of Making Contact and They Are Already Here, offers a must-read overview of America’s nuclear arsenal, emphasizing the technical details of keeping it up to date in the absence of testing, along with efforts at avoiding catastrophic surprises such as accidental explosions, unwanted actions by other nuclear powers, and simple theft of radioactive material for “trafficking or malicious use,” which has occurred more than 300 times during the past 30 years. The author reminds us that by 1992, the year after the Cold War ended, the U.S. had performed 1,054 nuclear tests—and none since. Readers wondering if these complex devices still work after resting in warehouses for three decades may be encouraged to know that government officials are also concerned about their viability. The Departments of Defense and Energy have long supported immense, expensive research programs in arcane areas of nuclear chemistry and physics. As backup, the government will soon resume production of fresh plutonium “pits”—hollow spheres that form the heart of a hydrogen bomb—for the first time since the 1980s. In her interviews, Scoles discovered that few of these scientists, engineers, and bureaucrats are war hawks; instead, they’re a mixture of people who constantly debate whether or not maintaining a nuclear arsenal deters a nuclear war. She also explores the work of antinuclear activists. Older readers who remember this debate from the Cold War years will not feel nostalgic; all readers will learn much vital information, some of it disturbing.

Everything you ever wanted to know about the current nuclear-weapon landscape.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781645030058

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Bold Type Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2024


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


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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