An admirable effort to illuminate a hidden world that will be most useful to fellow researchers in the social sciences.

LE BOOGIE WOOGIE

INSIDE AN AFTER-HOURS CLUB

Sociological research shines a light on a nightlife culture in which sex and drugs flourish openly.

Williams (Sociology/New School for Social Research; Teenage Suicide Notes: An Ethnography of Self-Harm, 2017, etc.) bridges the ivory tower and the urban subculture, employing ethnographic research to illuminate a world rarely glimpsed outside pulp fiction and film noir. The after-hours club of the title flourished in 1980s and ’90s Harlem, before rampant gentrification had transformed the neighborhood and cultural attitudes. “I live in two worlds, the world of the academy by day and the life of the street by night,” writes the author, “and I felt I had to reconcile them if I was ever to be the writer—the sociologist—I wanted to be.” In this book, he also has to reconcile then and now, because most of his field work was conducted two or three decades ago, before the internet, smartphones, and changing laws and attitudes had transformed the world. His research took place largely in loud and dark clubs, with subjects drunk or high on cocaine, making it tough to tell what they were saying or whom he could trust. He couldn’t tape or take detailed notes at the time, so much of what he details had to be reconstructed from memory. What he unveils is a subculture with its own codes and language, with moral values at odds with society at large, where drug use isn’t a sickness, addiction, or character defect but rather an “example of present-day resistance to conservative values and the desire of human beings to seek pleasurable ways of being regardless of risk.” Williams explores the cultural currency of cocaine, the commodification of sex by women who do not feel that they are being exploited, and the attitude of cool that pervades the after-hours atmosphere. He admits to voyeurism and some conflicted attitudes about the behavior he reports.

An admirable effort to illuminate a hidden world that will be most useful to fellow researchers in the social sciences.

Pub Date: Feb. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-231-17789-4

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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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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