A worthy contribution to feminist and activist studies.

AGAINST WHITE FEMINISM

NOTES ON DISRUPTION

An exploration of the divisive effects of Whiteness on feminism and a strong argument for transforming long-standing power structures.

In her latest book, Zakaria examines “dimensions of the feminist movement as it exists today, how it has arrived at this point, and where it could go from here, such that every woman who calls herself a feminist, of any race, class, nationality, or religion, can see a path forward and a reason to stay.” Underscoring her case against hegemonic trickle-down feminism are the author’s personal experiences. At age 17, while she was still living in her native Pakistan, she agreed to an arranged marriage in order to move to the U.S., where her future husband, 13 years her senior, promised to “allow” her to go to college. “I had never experienced freedom, so I gladly signed it away,” she writes. Their relationship became abusive, and, years later, Zakaria fled to a women’s shelter with their young daughter. The author describes in studied detail the dissonance between “the women who write and speak feminism and the women who live it,” pointing out that the former are almost exclusively White and middle- or upper-middle-class, while the latter are typically Black and brown working-class women. Zakaria asserts that White feminists “are constructing a feminism that uses the lives of Black and Brown people as arenas in which they can prove their credentials to white men….Freedom is a zero-sum game, more for one group (white women) only possible as the reinforcement of less for another (non-white people).” Demanding anti-capitalist empowerment, political solidarity, and intersectional redistributive change, the author eviscerates White-centered feminism, the tokenization of women of color, the aid industrial complex, and more. The final chapter, “From Deconstruction to Reconstruction,” is a welcome transition from visceral attack to plea for unification. In her conclusion, Zakaria acknowledges that “critique is the first step in a long process of opening debate.”

A worthy contribution to feminist and activist studies.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00661-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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