Pieces that show Frazier’s ranging curiosity, lucent style, and capacious heart.

HOGS WILD

SELECTED REPORTING PIECES

The veteran humorist and reporter for the New Yorker presents a collection of pieces that record his pursuits of wild hogs, hermit crabs, Asian carp, a Styrofoam substitute, and numerous other quarry.

Most of these pieces date from the previous decade and are arranged in an order that reflects not so much chronology as rhythm (shorter ones are sprinkled in among the longer), though some do relate more or less thematically to those surrounding. A piece on beach art, for example, precedes one on Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the beaches and inland territory of Staten Island. Frazier (The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days, 2012, etc.), who recently wrote about his journeys in a famously remote land (Travels in Siberia, 2010), ranges here over terrain more familiar to him—Manhattan and environs—although he does venture elsewhere, including Arizona and the Netherlands. In pieces previously published (and now slightly revised) in the New Yorker and other publications, the author gives readers a clear look at his research methods, fearlessness, vast curiosity, clear style, and unusual ability to get away with telling us things that would sound boring and unnecessary from a lesser writer—for instance, the routes and modes of transportation he took to arrive at relevant sites. His approach will remind readers of his great New Yorker colleague John McPhee: he seeks out the quirky and interesting people involved in his story (e.g., others who, like him, were seeking the place in Death Valley where Charles Manson was captured), gives us rich background derived from his deep reading of his subject (like an antidote to heroin overdoses), offers interviews with the principals in his cases (the family in New Jersey who thought a meteorite had punctured their bathroom ceiling), and so on. His celebrated humor glows rather than erupts in these more expository pieces.

Pieces that show Frazier’s ranging curiosity, lucent style, and capacious heart.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-29852-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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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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