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book reviews



  • The Unknown History of Black Uprisings

    by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

    Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor reviews Elizabeth Hinton's new "America on Fire" and explains how it shakes up established accounts of a "good" and "nonviolent" civil rights movement giving way to protest and violence.



  • In Fury We Trust (Review of Sarah Shulman)

    Sarah Shulman's book seeks to recover the histories of AIDS activists beyond white gay men, using two decades of oral history work to show the breadth of a coalition including women, lesbians, people of color, drug users, and the incarcerated, who all experienced the stakes of AIDS differently. 



  • The Professor Who Became a Cop

    Patrick Blanchfield reviews "Tangled Up In Blue," Rosa Brooks's account of joining the DC Police Reserve Corps and meditation on the role of policing in society. 



  • Narrative Napalm: Malcolm Gladwell's Apologia for American Butchery

    by Noah Kulwin

    Reviewer Noah Kulwin argues Malcolm Gladwell's book on the rise of American air power misrepresents the military history of World War II, wrongly elevates Curtis LeMay to the status of a heroic genius, and blithely passes over the vast carnage of incendiary and atomic bombings. 



  • Recasting the ‘Riots’ of the 1960s as Rebellions by Blacks Under Siege

    by Peniel E. Joseph

    Peniel Joseph reviews Elizabeth Hinton's new book "America On Fire" and says it "reconceptualizes the Black freedom struggle between the 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Lives Matter 2.0 demonstrations that galvanized the nation, and much of the world, in 2020."



  • The World of Edward Said

    by Esmat Elhalaby

    Previous biographies of the Arab scholar and Palestinian advocate Edward Said have either reduced him to his more provocative political statements or treated those politics as a pose. A new biography by Timothy Brennan examines the connections between intellectual life and a global community of activists. 



  • On the Life and Legacy of Black Journalist Louis Lomax (Review)

    by Joshua Clark Davis

    Louis Lomax was a provocateur, and was comfortable writing critically about both moderate and militant participants in the Black freedom movement; Thomas Aiello's new biography examines the complicated figure in African American journalism. 



  • The Book That Stopped an Outbreak of Nuclear War

    Serhii Plokhy adds new insight to the Cuban Missile Crisis by examining the domestic political context of the Soviet Union and the political incentives toward nuclear brinksmanship. 



  • Methods of Power: How do Authoritarians Rule? (Review)

    by David A. Bell

    Is Trumpism a fascist movement or a response to a power vacuum created by decades of neoliberal policies? Historian David A. Bell reviews Ruth Ben-Ghiat's "Strongmen" and argues that the book misses the specific context of Trumpism by making him an archetype of the authoritarian ruler. 



  • Remembering is Resistance

    by Jessica M. Parr

    Books by Ana Lucia Araujo and Joan Wallach Scott examine the politics of memory and history and explain the stakes of fights over teaching and memorializing oppression. 



  • The Age of Care (Review of Gabriel Winant's "The Next Shift")

    by Nelson Lichtenstein

    Labor historian Nelson Lichtenstein says Gabriel Winant's book on the rise of the care industry is the story of community change in the last 50 years, with union retiree health care dollars reabsorbed by capital through the treatment of diseases of despair provoked by deindustrialization (with care provided by a workforce of women and people of color).



  • Beyond Gay Imperialism

    by Samuel Huneke

    Do global campaigns for LGBTQ civil rights that originate in affluent Western societies reproduce the "civilizing mission" trope of colonialism, or use the goal of antidiscrimination to buttress the influence of wealthy nations? A historian considers a new book on global gay rights.



  • Why Did the Slave Trade Survive So Long?

    by James Oakes

    James Oakes reviews John Harris's new book "The Last Slave Ships: New York and the End of the Middle Passage," and praises its insight into the late years of the slave trade and slavery's relationship to capitalism. 


  • "Freedom of the Press in Small-Town America"

    by Robert W. Frizzell

    A review of HNN contributor Steven Hochstadt's new book of collected op-ed essays written between 2009 and 2018. The writings of a liberal Long Island Jew in a small-town midwestern newspaper offer a lens onto the question of the cultural divide in contemporary America.