In other words, it takes all kinds. Another entertaining book from Garfield.



Garfield (Timekeepers: How the World Became Obsessed with Time, 2018, etc.) turns his attention to models and miniatures and other small things that grab and reward our attention.

“At its simplest, the miniature shows us how to see, learn and appreciate more with less,” concludes the author, following a tour of the world of miniatures that has encompassed model railroads (Rod Stewart and Neil Young are enthusiasts), model boats (including slave ships, which somehow magnify the horror), model houses, and even miniature towns and cities. The size and scale are less important than the relationship of standing for something bigger, so the author also discusses hotels on the Las Vegas strip, including the Bellagio, the Venetian, and Paris. “The more one speaks to those who have adopted Vegas as their home,” he writes, “the more one hears talk of Europe as the phantom and Vegas as the real deal.” Garfield begins and ends with the Eiffel Tower—not because of its impressive architecture or the perspective on the city it affords but because “the opening of the tower marked the birth of the mass-consumed souvenir and the dawn of the factory-made scale model.” Consequently, others were inspired to build their own, including one constructed of 11,000 toothpicks that took approximately 300 hours to build. As much history as the author provides, he seems even more interested in human psychology: Why would someone spend so much time and effort to construct something that is ultimately without purpose, and why would others flock to see it? Garfield devotes a lot of attention to the ideal of order in a world of chaos while recognizing that the obsession can seem insane. Yet, as he writes of a man who has devoted much of his life to constructing a fleet of matchstick ships, “his dinner guests scoff that his work is pointless, but he’s happier in his world than they may ever be in theirs.”

In other words, it takes all kinds. Another entertaining book from Garfield.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9958-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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