An intense, riveting report on a public health crisis and a network of heroes on the front lines.

FIGHTING FOR SPACE

HOW A GROUP OF DRUG USERS TRANSFORMED ONE CITY’S STRUGGLE WITH ADDICTION

A chilling update on the most drug-ravaged sectors of North America.

Once journalist Lupick details the dire state of drug addiction across the country, the main focus of the book becomes one of motivation, humanitarianism, and perseverance on the part of a group of inner-city activists in Vancouver’s skid row section, Downtown Eastside. The author describes this area as destitute and rife with single room–occupancy hotels and countless drug pushers and addicts. In moving profiles, he chronicles the area’s downslide since the early 1990s. The drug epidemic’s stronghold on this particular Vancouver sector is intensified but also humanized by the stories of the well-organized efforts of the many activists who have provided counseling, compassionate assistance, and radical solutions through the Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users, which was founded in 1998. The roadblocks were monumental, including political invisibility, controversies surrounding supervised injection sites and overdose prevention programs, and efforts to destigmatize the addicts and their behaviors. Most inspiring are the stories of those rallying for the rights of users and advocating for interventional drug and harm reduction programs with adequate follow-up measures. Lupick also checks in with several other major American cities—Boston, Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, Toledo—to show their progress on combating the drug-abuse epidemics. The author highlights many unconventional approaches to fighting the onslaught of drug deaths, how these singular techniques are working, and what needs refinement to improve the odds. In addition to chronicling the desperation of addicts and how entire neighborhoods can buckle beneath the weight of drug dependency, Lupick also provides significant insight into the movement to destigmatize the opioid abuse epidemic with efforts to reclassify it as a health problem and to combat it with methods of harm reduction rather than criminal policing. He brings the reality of the perennial war on drugs into vivid focus and introduces an impressive group of activists confronting this “ongoing struggle” with steely determination and compassion.

An intense, riveting report on a public health crisis and a network of heroes on the front lines.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55152-712-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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