A powerful, evocative study of the legacies of the last half-century’s most violent wars.

IMAGINE

REFLECTIONS ON PEACE

A collection of essays, interviews, and photographs offers a portrait of warfare and the elusiveness of peace.

As a veteran photojournalist, Gary Knight spent nearly 20 years as a constant witness to warfare, covering the Middle East, civil wars in Yugoslavia and Kashmir, and conflicts throughout Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. In 2001, he co-founded the VII Foundation to document and explore today’s pressing human rights issues. In this book, the foundation delves into some of the major world conflicts since 1945 and discusses ways to achieve lasting peace. In his opening essay, Knight poignantly highlights the ironies of a world order that lauds peace but continues to bestow its highest honors on warriors. Featuring essays by and interviews of over a dozen journalists, photographers, diplomats, and refugees, the work investigates the nature of war and the successes and failures of peace settlements in six conflicts: Lebanon, Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Ireland, and Colombia. With a particular sensitivity to gender, many chapters highlight not just the experiences of women, but also how the inclusion of women in postwar decision-making increases the likelihood of peace. For example, Rwanda, the site of one of the worst genocides in recent history, is now represented by the largest number of female parliamentarians in the world and provides a global model for reconciliation. And while the book boasts essays by dignitaries like Jonathan Powell, Tony Blair’s chief of staff, and Samantha Power, the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, its most effective pages are those without any text. Nearly every section features haunting yet deeply human photos of war and postwar life by various photographers. A “Then vs. Now” photo essay that compares Cambodia in the 1970s through the ’90s to the present day silently speaks volumes about the slow progress of peace even after five decades. But despite a short essay on Iraq and an occasional passing reference, there is a curious lack of coverage of the conflicts that have involved the U.S., either directly or through covert action. America’s role in promoting peace as well as fostering violence is largely deemphasized, as is the proliferation of Western arms.

A powerful, evocative study of the legacies of the last half-century’s most violent wars. (afterword, contributors, acknowledgements)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-68463-085-1

Page Count: 412

Publisher: SparkPress

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2020

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Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

GIRLHOOD

An acclaimed nonfiction writer gathers essays embracing the pleasure, pain, and power of growing up as a girl and woman.

In her latest powerful personal and cultural examination, Febos interrogates the complexities of feminism and the "darkness" that has defined much of her life and career. In "Kettle Holes," she describes how experiences of humiliation at the hands of a boy she loved helped shape some of the pleasure she later found working as a dominatrix (an experience she vividly recounted in her 2010 book, Whip Smart). As she fearlessly plumbed the depths of her precocious sexuality in private, she watched in dismay as patriarchal society transformed her into a "passive thing.” In "Wild America," the author delves into body-shaming issues, recounting how, during adolescence, self-hatred manifested as a desire to physically erase herself and her "gigantic" hands. Only later, in the love she found with a lesbian partner, did she finally appreciate the pleasure her hands could give her and others. Febos goes on to explore the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships in "Thesmophoria,” writing about the suffering she brought to her mother through lies and omissions about clandestine—and sometimes dangerous—sexual experiments and youthful flirtations with crystal meth and heroin. Their relationship was based on the "ritual violence" that informed the Persephone/Demeter dyad, in which the daughter alternately brought both pain and joy to her mother. "Intrusions" considers how patriarchy transforms violence against women into narratives of courtship that pervert the meaning of love. In "Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself," Febos memorably demonstrates how the simple act of platonic touching can be transformed into a psychosexual minefield for women. Profound and gloriously provocative, this book—a perfect follow-up to her equally visceral previous memoir, Abandon Me (2017)—transforms the wounds and scars of lived female experience into an occasion for self-understanding that is both honest and lyrical.

Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-252-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

A WARNING

The nameless resister inside the White House speaks.

“The character of one man has widened the chasms of American political division,” writes Anonymous. Indeed. The Trump years will not be remembered well—not by voters, not by history since the man in charge “couldn’t focus on governing, and he was prone to abuses of power, from ill-conceived schemes to punish his political rivals to a propensity for undermining vital American institutions.” Given all that, writes the author, and given Trump’s bizarre behavior and well-known grudges—e.g., he ordered that federal flags be raised to full staff only a day after John McCain died, an act that insiders warned him would be construed as petty—it was only patriotic to try to save the country from the man even as the resistance movement within the West Wing simultaneously tried to save Trump’s presidency. However, that they tried did not mean they succeeded: The warning of the title consists in large part of an extended observation that Trump has removed the very people most capable of guiding him to correct action, and the “reasonable professionals” are becoming ever fewer in the absence of John Kelly and others. So unwilling are those professionals to taint their reputations by serving Trump, in fact, that many critical government posts are filled by “acting” secretaries, directors, and so forth. And those insiders abetting Trump are shrinking in number even as Trump stumbles from point to point, declaring victory over the Islamic State group (“People are going to fucking die because of this,” said one top aide) and denouncing the legitimacy of the process that is now grinding toward impeachment. However, writes the author, removal from office is not the answer, not least because Trump may not leave without trying to stir up a civil war. Voting him out is the only solution, writes Anonymous; meanwhile, we’re stuck with a president whose acts, by the resisters’ reckoning, are equal parts stupid, illegal, or impossible to enact.

Readers would do well to heed the dark warning that this book conveys.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5387-1846-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

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