A multilayered illustration of a unique community where things aren’t always what they seem.

THE QUIET ZONE

UNRAVELING THE MYSTERY OF A TOWN SUSPENDED IN SILENCE

An exploration of perhaps the last quiet town in America.

Journalist Kurczy, who hasn’t “owned a cellphone in nearly a decade,” takes us through the intriguing community and culture of Green Bank, West Virginia, dubbed “the quietest town in America.” Nestled “deep in the mountains of Appalachia,” the town is home to the Green Bank Observatory. Due to the demands of the facility’s astronomical research, devices emanating radio frequencies that might interfere with their telescopes are banned in what is called the “National Radio Quiet Zone.” After learning about this seemingly idyllic community, the author dug deeper, hoping to discover a better life. During numerous visits, Kurczy interviewed and heard stories from and about some of its residents who have sought refuge in the silence, including neo-hippies and those suffering from “a mysterious illness called ‘electromagnetic hypersensitivity.’ ” The author also discovered a darker side of this remote area: conspiracy theories, unsolved deaths, and ties to the racist National Alliance. Throughout his time in Green Bank, Kurczy ate with the locals, drank moonshine, shot guns, and participated in cave-dives and other adventures. In a community filled with contradictions, he also found that neighbors were always willing to help each other in times of need. Kurczy also examines educational and health concerns, the impact that the absence of technology has had on the citizens’ lives, other means of communications used within the community, and inaccurate portrayals of the region by the media. The epilogue offers an update based on the effects of the current pandemic. Although Kurczy recognizes that various viewpoints exist within the community and includes them in the text, the narrative also includes some physical and cultural clichés frequently found in works related to rural Americans. Nonetheless, the story remains captivating.

A multilayered illustration of a unique community where things aren’t always what they seem.

Pub Date: Aug. 3, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-294549-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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