Though without the rhetorical fire of Noam Chomsky or Naomi Klein, Keller makes a spirited case for preferring untrammeled...




“Liberty must always be privileged over security”: a persuasive cri de coeur from a national security expert.

Is the West at war with Islam? Is the United States at war with “radical Islamic terrorism,” the claim on which Ted Cruz staked his bid for the presidency? In a sense, sure, and there are tangible threats to the security of ordinary people in this time of conflict. Still, Keller (International Affairs/Univ. of Georgia; The Liberals and J. Edgar Hoover: Rise and Fall of a Domestic Intelligence State, 2016, etc.) notes, there is a greater existential threat in the constant ploys by “politicians and the intelligence agencies…[to] instill irrational fear into the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens.” There are payoffs to doing so, of course. By the author’s account, a narrative of daily life in which terrorism is a permanent presence and threat helps “politicians and security chiefs maintain and increase power,” even if it flies in the face of the evidence, which instead suggests that we’re more likely to be victims of ordinary citizen-on-citizen homicide, to say nothing of lightning strikes, car wrecks, and other accidents. Keller charts the growth of what he calls “Secure Democracy,” a security state with the outward trappings of a free society but one that, since 9/11, has been ever more intrusive and manipulative, especially in the misrepresentation of facts concerning the dangers of terrorism. The author likens the expansion of this security state to the expansion of the nuclear arsenal during the Cold War. If it was a given that some nuclear weaponry was required as a deterrent, the stockpiles that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union accumulated were far beyond what was necessary—an “exercise in the absurd,” writes the author, though there is nothing absurd in the “pseudo-democratic governance” that has replaced the old republic.

Though without the rhetorical fire of Noam Chomsky or Naomi Klein, Keller makes a spirited case for preferring untrammeled freedom to managed and monitored safety.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61902-912-5

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2016

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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