Social Sciences Book Reviews

LIT UP by David Denby
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An upbeat portrait of fine teachers and the students they inspire."
Teenagers encounter great books and dedicated teachers. Read full book review >
CHILDREN OF PARADISE by Laura Secor
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An insightful chronicle of bloody repression and brave defiance."
A close look at Iranian culture and politics from the 1979 revolution to the present. Read full book review >

INTEGRATION NATION by Susan E. Eaton
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"From Indiana to Georgia to Maine, these intelligent model programs should inspire others."
Pragmatic approaches to incorporating the enormous waves of immigrants arriving in the United States. Read full book review >
BLACKBALLED by Lawrence Ross
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"'Racism is icky to talk about, as everyone usually retreats to their comfortable box when dealing with it,' Ross admits, but his biting critique may fuel much-needed conversation."
An impassioned indictment of racism in predominantly white institutions of higher learning. Read full book review >
ORIGINALS by Adam Grant
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A mixed bag but of interest to readers looking to jump-start their creative powers and raise quick-witted children."
A blend of old and new—and sometimes original—informs this pop-science piece on creativity and its discontents. Read full book review >

HELL IS A VERY SMALL PLACE by Jean  Casella
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A potent cry of anguish from men and women buried way down in the hole."
The founders of a watchdog group dedicated to stopping the practice of solitary confinement gather voices from victims of this hellish punishment. Read full book review >
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING LITTLE by Erika Christakis
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A deep, provocative analysis of the current modes of teaching preschoolers and what should be changed to create a more effective learning environment for everyone."
An early childhood educator offers fresh advice on how parents and teachers should be interacting with preschool children to achieve better overall results. Read full book review >
THE BLACK PRESIDENCY by Michael Eric Dyson
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Dyson succeeds admirably in creating a base line for future interpretations of this historic presidency. His well-written book thoroughly illuminates the challenges facing a black man elected to govern a society that is far from post-racial."
An early assessment of America's first black presidency. Read full book review >
ONE CHILD by Mei Fong
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Finished just before the announcement of the policy's demise, One Child is a touching and captivating anthropological investigation of one of the most invasive laws ever devised."
Widespread female infanticide and officials jailing pregnant women's families to induce them to surrender to abortions—these are scenes not from a dystopian novel but from China's family planning bureaucracy. Read full book review >
WHILE THE CITY SLEPT by Eli Sanders
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An exceptional story of compelling interest in a time of school shootings, ethnic and class strife, and other unbound expressions of madness and illness."
Disturbing, sometimes-horrifying story of true crime and justice only partially served. Read full book review >
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A passionate discussion of race and politics sure to inspire heated debate and, hopefully, proactive solutions."
An activist treatise on how shifting American demographics are changing the political climate. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Quigley's narrative of Terrell and her court case is especially relevant in the wake of numerous well-publicized killings of black citizens by police officers and the latest wave of black activism."
A retelling of the events leading up to the landmark civil rights Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., Inc., which invalidated segregated restaurants in the city in 1953.Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >