An entertaining and informative read that will serve as a jumping-off point for countless discussions about racism.

RACISM, NOT RACE

ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

A relatable conversation about race that stands out from many other books on the always-relevant topic.

By now, most readers are familiar with racial stereotypes such as "black don't crack" or "white men can't jump.” However, few have bothered to examine their origins or consider them critically. Here, Graves Jr., a professor of biology, and Goodman, a professor of biological anthropology, tackle a wide variety of racial issues using science and statistics, with just enough emotion to keep readers engaged. Throughout, the authors debunk numerous accepted myths, such as biology being related to race. Instead, the authors focus on the role that genetic variation plays in determining specific characteristics, from eye color to one’s predisposition to specific diseases. Defining raceas "a social classification based on assumptions about ancestry and appearance,” Graves and Goodman find archaic religion and erroneous science as early culprits that paved the way for racist stereotypes and systems to exist, many of which continue to operate today. Using questions and answers and the life and social sciences to back their conclusions, the authors are unafraid to dig into a host of thorny issues (“Are ‘Jews’ a race? What about people of Italian and Irish descent?”), providing well-documented evidence to bolster their arguments. Their approach is a pleasing mix of broad and granular—e.g., “Why is it that you can almost always tell a Nigerian from a Norwegian, yet a Nigerian and a Norwegian do not genetically differ that much?” The authors also interrogate the murky concept of intelligence and how medical and judicial assumptions nurture environments in which racism assists in the degradation of communities of color. Similarly, they break down White supremacy, calling it "our time's big lie." Each chapter concludes with a summary about the subjects at hand, and the authors also include a call to action to tackle personal and communal racism head-on.

An entertaining and informative read that will serve as a jumping-off point for countless discussions about racism.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-231-20066-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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