A vocational and sociological travelogue that readers will find to be time well spent.

MY JOB

REAL PEOPLE AT WORK AROUND THE WORLD

A collection of intimate interviews with people regarding the personal, familial, cultural, and geographic factors in their working lives.

Inspired by Studs Terkel’s Working (1974), which profiled ordinary American workers, editor Skees (God Among the Shakers, 1998) takes the concept global. Six of her 16 subjects live in the United States, including a slack-key guitarist in Honolulu, an architect in Cincinnati, and a recruiter/headhunter in Tampa, Florida. The rest are on other continents, including a coffee farmer in Nicaragua, a Masai warrior in Tanzania, a married couple running an eco-friendly factory in India, a rickshaw puller in Bangladesh, and a private equity manager in Hong Kong. Skees organizes the material into five sections (“Entrepreneurship,” “Industry and Transportation,” “Farming, Food, and Animals,” “Finance and Technology,” and “Music & Arts”), but each first-person account stands on its own, and they can be read in any order. A map, photograph, and editor’s note introduce each, and footnotes supplement the text. Skees nimbly maintains a consistent narrative flow, with none of the readability problems that are common in transcriptions. Whereas Terkel packed a great many workers into his book, Skees gives her subjects more space to muse, digress, and occasionally contradict themselves. The results are highly personal, often poignant, sometimes gritty, and routinely granular—perhaps more than some readers may expect, or even desire. The editor sets out to demonstrate that “our job = our self.” But such detailed portraits also reveal that formula’s commutative property—how personal preferences, chance, circumstances, and location shape each person’s job choice and performance. Skees is a nonprofit international development specialist, and doing work that contributes to the greater good emerges as a strong theme. As a result, this is a small, and perhaps skewed, sample of the world’s workforce (although a second volume is forthcoming), but it will inspire readers by showcasing workers across diverse industries, income levels, countries, and cultures expressing how they find meaning in their work beyond earning money.

A vocational and sociological travelogue that readers will find to be time well spent.

Pub Date: Nov. 16, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9962951-0-9

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Titletown Publishing, LLC

Review Posted Online: April 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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