Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes.

HARVEY MILK

HIS LIVES AND DEATH

A new biography of the controversial and groundbreaking Harvey Milk (1930-1978).

In this latest installment of the publisher’s Jewish Lives series, LGBT historian Faderman (The Gay Revolution: The Story of the Struggle, 2015, etc.) focuses on one of the most revolutionary West Coast gay politicians of the 20th century. Born to a Jewish family, Milk struggled to find his place in the society that surrounded him, regardless of where he lived and went to school. As the author writes, “Harvey was steeped in Jewishness as a child….But his heart was not in it. He later claimed that he rejected religion because when he was twelve years old he ‘found out that religion was phony or hypocritical.’ ” Milk’s ability to see things as they were—to see through the protective membranes of societal and cultural preconceptions—is what set him apart as a deeply insightful politician. He clearly identified the major issues in his community and addressed them head-on. Faderman deftly navigates us through Milk’s incredible journey, from his days exploring the Navy’s gay haven to his experience in the early 1970s in New York scrapping pennies to pay the rent on his Greenwich Village apartment to his arrival to California, where he quickly became a staple in the Castro District, the notoriously gay neighborhood in San Francisco. The author naturally devotes much of the text to Milk’s political accomplishments, including his work against the discriminatory Proposition 6, voter registration drives, and, above all, being the first openly gay man elected as city supervisor. Though Milk’s story is well-known, Faderman does a fantastic job at reanimating a story that reminds us that people can be truly tolerant—with the exception of the few—and that, with will (not money), anyone can effect change.

Harvey Milk as seen through fresh, highly knowledgeable eyes.

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-300-22261-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor...

INTO THE WILD

The excruciating story of a young man on a quest for knowledge and experience, a search that eventually cooked his goose, told with the flair of a seasoned investigative reporter by Outside magazine contributing editor Krakauer (Eiger Dreams, 1990). 

Chris McCandless loved the road, the unadorned life, the Tolstoyan call to asceticism. After graduating college, he took off on another of his long destinationless journeys, this time cutting all contact with his family and changing his name to Alex Supertramp. He was a gent of strong opinions, and he shared them with those he met: "You must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life''; "be nomadic.'' Ultimately, in 1992, his terms got him into mortal trouble when he ran up against something—the Alaskan wild—that didn't give a hoot about Supertramp's worldview; his decomposed corpse was found 16 weeks after he entered the bush. Many people felt McCandless was just a hubris-laden jerk with a death wish (he had discarded his map before going into the wild and brought no food but a bag of rice). Krakauer thought not. Admitting an interest that bordered on obsession, he dug deep into McCandless's life. He found a willful, reckless, moody boyhood; an ugly little secret that sundered the relationship between father and son; a moral absolutism that agitated the young man's soul and drove him to extremes; but he was no more a nutcase than other pilgrims. Writing in supple, electric prose, Krakauer tries to make sense of McCandless (while scrupulously avoiding off-the-rack psychoanalysis): his risky behavior and the rites associated with it, his asceticism, his love of wide open spaces, the flights of his soul.

A wonderful page-turner written with humility, immediacy, and great style. Nothing came cheap and easy to McCandless, nor will it to readers of Krakauer's narrative. (4 maps) (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42850-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Villard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1995

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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