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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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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