A powerful report on a relevant women’s movement deservedly brought to light over a century after it occurred.

THE TRIALS OF NINA MCCALL

SEX, SURVEILLANCE, AND THE DECADES-LONG GOVERNMENT PLAN TO IMPRISON "PROMISCUOUS" WOMEN

Historical survey of an early-20th-century initiative to control “promiscuous” women through forced quarantines.

In the 1910s, citing venereal disease as one of the largest culprits of military disability, the U.S. government created what was called the American Plan, which resulted in thousands of women being incarcerated for their perceived contraction and transmission of sexually transmitted infections. Stern adapts his prizewinning Yale University graduate thesis on the subject for general readers. The result is a dramatic re-enactment of the plight of these involuntarily quarantined women, personified through the life of Nina McCall, a teenager who was targeted by health officials as a disease carrier (she was declared “slightly infected” with gonorrhea) and coerced into admitting herself into a women’s detention hospital. Bolstered by the advent of neoregulationism, whereby health officials—not police—would filter, outlaw, and imprison women for disease and suspected prostitution, officials held the mass-arrested women for months on often sketchy evidence. Eventually, after simmering resentment turned to sheer outrage, a resistance movement began to develop, and dozens of women escaped, rioted, enacted hunger strikes, or set fire to their facilities in protest. According to Stern’s meticulous research, others, including McCall, took the legal route and sued government officials for the torturous and barbaric “curative” treatments they had endured in the detention facilities. Using letters, diaries, articles, and archival records, the author intricately re-creates McCall’s world and brings much-needed attention to the struggle of these persecuted women and their fight for justice. The author spotlights McCall’s trial testimony, where she became a radical voice against female oppression and abuse and an inspiration to others. The book’s academic tone is direct, informative, exacting, and well-suited for the grim subject matter it addresses, and it puts a face on the treacherous, sexist injustices committed by a misguided government.

A powerful report on a relevant women’s movement deservedly brought to light over a century after it occurred.

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-8070-4275-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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