Next book

THE IDENTITY TRAP

A STORY OF IDEAS AND POWER IN OUR TIME

A thoughtful deconstruction of identity politics well worth discussing.

A passionate book about how the things we have in common are greater than the things that divide us.

Early on Mounk reminds us that, during the Covid-19 pandemic, some health authorities decided that the limited supplies of the newly created vaccine should be allocated to people according to race even though it meant that fewer lives would be saved. This led him to the conclusion that the conflict between identity politics—his preferred term is identity synthesis—and liberalism is the critical struggle of our time. Mounk, the author of The Great Experiment and The People vs. Democracy, should not be dismissed as a reactionary basement scribbler: He is a respected academic at John Hopkins University, a contributor to the Atlantic, the founder of Persuasion magazine, and he has published prolifically about the dangers of far-right extremists and nationalistic demagogues. An unabashed liberal, the author acknowledges the lure of identity politics, with its quasi-religious fervor and Manichaean simplicity. The trap is that by placing group identity at the center of all discourse, it locks in a victim mentality and a pattern of destructive conflict. Mounk also notes that identity politics deliberately ignores the social progress made since the 1960s. For years, identity politics was a marginal academic interest, but the explosion of social media and the election of Donald Trump took it mainstream. It found its way into media organizations, government agencies, corporations, and schools, and its advocates were always ready to shout down and punish anyone who disagreed. For it to spin out of control, Mounk writes, it only requires that good people stay silent. Hardcore proponents and detractors alike may not be won over, but there is a vast middle that can be reached through open debate and plain common sense. This book is a solid launching point for further constructive debate.

A thoughtful deconstruction of identity politics well worth discussing.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9780593493182

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

Next book

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

Close Quickview