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HE/SHE/THEY

HOW WE TALK ABOUT GENDER AND WHY IT MATTERS

A wonderfully clear and convincing guide to comprehending and defending gender diversity.

Understanding the realities of gender identities.

In this remarkable book, Bailar, the first trans athlete to play a sport on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team and now a prominent advocate for trans rights, reflects on his experiences as a trans man and explains how we might best comprehend and discuss gender identity. In four sections, the author provides definitions of critical concepts related to gender, recommendations about ways to discuss complex and sensitive issues, scientifically informed debunking of common misconceptions, and guidance about how trans individuals and their allies can successfully navigate the challenges of an often transphobic society. Along the way, Bailar astutely unpacks the assumptions informing key debates that have become flashpoints in the nation’s culture wars: the appropriateness of surgery and hormone treatments for young people; the participation of trans individuals in sports; the politics of bathrooms; the significance of pronoun use; and the relationship between trans identities and mental illness. Among the many strengths of this book is the author’s patient, informed unfolding of his arguments. Though his claims are obviously deeply held and passionately rendered, Bailar refrains from polemics and remains generous toward those who might disagree. Another key point is the author’s linking of transphobia to other forms of prejudice and indictment of deep-seated cultural anxieties about gender and sexual orientation. Trans individuals, he writes, “are a threat because our very identities disrupt the most basic conventions of Western society: cis white patriarchal power—the system of oppression that has built and controlled this country since its inception…we know ourselves even when those in power say it is impossible for us to exist.” Bailar’s appeals for understanding could not be timelier, given the recent rise of anti-trans legislation as well as anti-trans violence. For those seeking such understanding, this is an invaluable resource.

A wonderfully clear and convincing guide to comprehending and defending gender diversity.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2023

ISBN: 9780306831874

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Hachette Go

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2023

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WHAT THIS COMEDIAN SAID WILL SHOCK YOU

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

The comedian argues that the arts of moderation and common sense must be reinvigorated.

Some people are born snarky, some become snarky, and some have snarkiness thrust upon them. Judging from this book, Maher—host of HBO’s Real Time program and author of The New New Rules and When You Ride Alone, You Ride With bin Laden—is all three. As a comedian, he has a great deal of leeway to make fun of people in politics, and he often delivers hilarious swipes with a deadpan face. The author describes himself as a traditional liberal, with a disdain for Republicans (especially the MAGA variety) and a belief in free speech and personal freedom. He claims that he has stayed much the same for more than 20 years, while the left, he argues, has marched toward intolerance. He sees an addiction to extremism on both sides of the aisle, which fosters the belief that anyone who disagrees with you must be an enemy to be destroyed. However, Maher has always displayed his own streaks of extremism, and his scorched-earth takedowns eventually become problematic. The author has something nasty to say about everyone, it seems, and the sarcastic tone starts after more than 300 pages. As has been the case throughout his career, Maher is best taken in small doses. The book is worth reading for the author’s often spot-on skewering of inept politicians and celebrities, but it might be advisable to occasionally dip into it rather than read the whole thing in one sitting. Some parts of the text are hilarious, but others are merely insulting. Maher is undeniably talented, but some restraint would have produced a better book.

Maher calls out idiocy wherever he sees it, with a comedic delivery that veers between a stiletto and a sledgehammer.

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

ISBN: 9781668051351

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2024

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WHAT WENT WRONG WITH CAPITALISM

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

A book-length assertion that capitalism’s woes can be traced to government interventionism.

Sharma, an investments manager, financial journalist, and author of The 10 Rules of Successful Nations, The Rise and Fall of Nations, and other books, opens with the case of his native India. The author argues that it should be in a better position in the global marketplace, possessing an entrepreneurial culture and endless human capital. The culprit was “India’s lingering attachment to a state that overpromises and under-delivers,” one that privileged social welfare over infrastructure development. Much the same is true in the U.S., where today “President Joe Biden is promising to fix the crises of capitalism by enlarging a government that never shrank.” Refreshingly, Sharma places just as much blame on Ronald Reagan for the swollen state that introduced distortions into the market. Moreover, “flaws that economists blame on ‘market failures,’ including wealth inequality and inordinate corporate power, often flow more from government excesses.” One distortion is the government’s bloated debt, as it continues to fund itself by borrowing in order to pay for “the perennial deficit.” As any household budget manager would tell you, debt is ultimately unsustainable. Wealth concentration is another outcome of government tinkering that has, whether by design or not, concentrated wealth into the hands of a very small number of people, “a critical symptom of capitalism gone wrong, both inefficient and grossly unfair.” Perhaps surprisingly, Sharma notes that in quasi-socialist economies such as the Scandinavian nations, such interventions are fewer and shallower, while autocratic command economies are doomed to fail. “[T]oday every large developed country is a full-fledged democracy,” he writes, and the more freedom the better—but that freedom, he argues, is undermined by the U.S. government, which has accrued “the widest budget deficit in the developed world.”

Sure to generate debate, and of special interest to adherents of free market capitalism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2024

ISBN: 9781668008263

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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