A graceful, finely crafted examination of America’s racial, cultural, and political identity. Perry always delivers.

SOUTH TO AMERICA

A JOURNEY BELOW THE MASON-DIXON TO UNDERSTAND THE SOUL OF A NATION

Travels through fraught landscapes in the American South.

Perry, professor of African American studies at Princeton, melds memoir, travel narrative, and history in an intimate, penetrating journey through the South, from the Mason-Dixon Line to Florida, West Virginia, and the Bahamas. “Paying attention to the South,” she asserts, “allows us to understand much more about our nation, and about how our people, land, and commerce work in relation to one another, often cruelly, and about how our tastes and ways flow from our habits.” At Harpers Ferry in West Virginia, she met a Confederate reenactor—playacting she derides. Yet she found him endearing, empathizing with his yearning “to live inside history, to know its nooks and crannies, to imagine the everyday.” A native Alabaman, Perry is the daughter of civil rights activists, a White Jewish father who left the North to teach at a historically Black college and a Black mother whose family had migrated to Birmingham. Although the author has lived in Cambridge, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia, to her, home is “deep” within the “red earth” of Alabama. She reflects on her own experiences of racism as a biracial woman and explores ways that Blacks have adapted historically, and she engagingly chronicles her visits to communities that embody the term “broken oasis,” efforts of Black Americans to embrace the nation’s politics and culture while remaining independent. They were destroyed, she notes, “by the habits of White Supremacy.” In progressive cities and rural towns, the author finds plenty of evidence of “the plantation South, with its Black vernacular, its insurgency, and also its brutal masculinity, its worship of Whiteness, its expulsion and its massacres, its self-defeating stinginess and unapologetic pride”—in short, the essence of America. The South, she notes, is “conservative in the sense of conservation. But what that means is not in fact easily described in political terms.”

A graceful, finely crafted examination of America’s racial, cultural, and political identity. Perry always delivers.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-297740-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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