A psychologically provocative study on the gravity of charm, charisma, and outward impressions.

THE TURN-ON

HOW THE POWERFUL MAKE US LIKE THEM--FROM WASHINGTON TO WALL STREET TO HOLLYWOOD

An examination of likability in media, politics, and business.

In his debut book, Goldstein draws from his multifaceted careers as a TV producer, congressional attorney, political consultant, and LGBTQ civil rights leader to probe the dynamics of widespread appeal in the public eye. He opens his insightful analysis with a real-life example of reputation preservation when he was contacted by Osama bin Laden’s half brother seeking assistance in saving the family name. Goldstein defines likability as a collection of the qualities that “welcome us into a satisfying emotional relationship” with another. As he notes, all of us can use these traits to encourage an appealing reaction from others. He calls the recognition of these key features “likeability literacy” and lucidly describes how outward appeal can enchant and captivate, much akin to falling in love, but it can also be important for companies to embrace it to ensure profitability and customer loyalty. In terms of public personalities, Goldstein points out specific characteristics shared by figures like Benjamin Franklin, who instinctually engaged his constituents through uplifting stories; Ellen DeGeneres, a relatable celebrity who captured a nation’s attention with a live Oscar telecast selfie, America’s sweetheart Betty White; and social justice advocate Malala Yousafzai. These and many others, Goldstein acknowledges, have garnered positive attention and greatly enthralled followers while a noted lack of these likable traits can cause popularity quotients (and stocks) to sink and elections to be lost. Goldstein’s expertise shines most in his delineations of eight classic likability traits and how each factors into and cultivates our impressions, opinions, and takeaways of others, particularly public figures like CEOs, world leaders, and celebrities. He breaks down each trait and pinpoints their individual strengths and durability within the arena of today’s hypercritical, impressionable culture, stressing the conclusive perception that “likeability is leverage.” An oddly tempting self-assessment analysis encourages readers to measure their own overall appeal.

A psychologically provocative study on the gravity of charm, charisma, and outward impressions.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-291169-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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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