What I learned from the book? A ton! Not that it's very useful knowledge, but it may come in handy in conversation at at a cocktail party. The book isWhat I learned from the book? A ton! Not that it's very useful knowledge, but it may come in handy in conversation at at a cocktail party. The book is very funny, I especially love the footnotes, which often take the topic to a whole other level (such as, things pulled from anuses in emergency rooms nationwide, or interesting uses for electric toothbrushes). Very fun book (although I liked Stiff better. Also, I bet when she tried to come up with a title for this book, she was sad she had already used "Stiff")....more
I'm sure this is a great book for a college age white kid who grew up in a predominantly white area. There is a lot of stuff here that would be benefiI'm sure this is a great book for a college age white kid who grew up in a predominantly white area. There is a lot of stuff here that would be beneficial to those who have not yet been exposed to many racial conversations.
However, to a middle aged person living in a racially diverse city (Oakland), there was not much in this book for me. I am not the target audience. In Oakland, we talk about race, argue about race, and ignore race in turn. In my child's classroom there are: "American" white; Italian, Brazilian, Israeli, mixed black/white, black, mexican, asian, children of same-sex parents. Here goes my review anyway....
I think the black kids are sitting together in the cafeteria because teenagers are sheep and like to clump together; race being just one way of "clumping". Look at the stoner table, the jock table, the goth table, etc. And if you look closer, you'll also see kids move from group to group, trying on different identies; this is what adolescents do.
This book describes a very black and white world (no joke intended), where the world I see outside my window is all sorts of shades of grey (actually brown, I guess). The book is also limited to a very American perspective - I'd subtitle it "Development of Racial Identity in non-ethnically diverse American Cites and Towns". And I'll even go further and say it's a historical perspective that is already (thankfully) becoming outdated (written in 1997; much has changed in the last 12 years - Obama, anyone? The argument of no Black people as role models or in positions of power does not hold.)
I don't support her promotion of segregation (she seems to champion all black schools/colleges), and was put off by her bragging about whites being "irrelevant" during her college years. Isn't the point she's making that whites have historically treated the blacks as irrelevant? And if so, how can she promote this as good, even when it's the other way around? And if the blacks go off by themselves, how can she possibly think that this will make them more "relevant" to the dominant (White) culture? In my opinion, it is better to have more a more diverse teaching team in mixed schools/colleges so that children see all sorts of role models as they grow up.
I hate the us and them language - exactly who is defining who is in what group? Are we going to get out a shade card to see if someone's skin is dark or light enough? I found the subtitle of the Mixed Race section offensive (don't remember exactly, but something like "Don't the children suffer?"). Just that assumption that this is what people think was off putting.
I disagree with her position that only whites can be racist (although I've heard the argument before, and understand her point about positions of power and institutional racism, etc. I just don't agree.) In my opinion, every race can be racist. ("Discrimination or prejudice based on race" - from the dictionary. From wikipedia: "People with racist beliefs exhibit stereotype-based prejudices towards individuals and groups of people according to their race.")
I think she failed in her Affirmative Action section; she basically said "Now that I've explained White privilege to you, you understand why affirmative action is necessary." But the pro/con argument is much richer than that.
The sections regarding non-African American people of color were not very valuable; they ended up reducing other ethnicities/cultures to superficial stereotypes (Asians= "good immigrants" or something like that). I could not get used to calling Native Americans "Indian", and was surprised she put the group I'd call "Indian" (from India) in the same group as Asians, and think it's not really informative to lump Indian, Persian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Pakistani, etc. into one "Asian" group. They are totally different. This part could have been left out of the book completely.
Overall, for people who have not thought much about race; who have come from a place where they take their societal position for granted and have not met many people of color, this is a valuable starting point for conversations. I assume that is why this book is being assigned as required reading in college courses.
However, for someone who lives in an ethnically diverse place, this book did not have much to add to the conversation....more
I'm a fan of Dave Eggers; always have been, I jumped on the bandwagon very early and stayed on. First book of his I read was "A Heartbreaking work..."I'm a fan of Dave Eggers; always have been, I jumped on the bandwagon very early and stayed on. First book of his I read was "A Heartbreaking work..." - and I realize I never gave it an official review. Let's just say that I have a strange relationship with that book; I was reading it, thinking "Oh, how tragic. How awful! The poor little orphan kids!" etc., and then about halfway through the book, my mom died unexpectedly. And all of a sudden, my POV switched to "Happens to everyone at some point, ordinary occurance, deal with it" and went along with that (which is kind of Eggers voice in the book - recognizing the tragic part but more living in the reality and ordinariness of the situation). Until he scatters the ashes, and then OMG - you feel the loss again. Which is how it is. You think you're OK, and then realize you are so not. And then you are again. So I think he got it right (loss, coping), at least seen through the filter of my experience.
Which is all a roundabout way of saying, I like this author. So, regarding this book: I would give 4.5 stars if Goodreads had allowed it. I thought it was good and an interesting way to talk about Katrina, but when I reached the end it I felt a little empty - like what happened was really horrible, and there needed to be more aftermath or something? It felt like a REALLY BAD MONTH; but my guess is it was much much worse than that, and I didn't really get much of the long term affects from the book.
Things I liked: he stays non-political and non-blaming by relating simply what happened to these 2 people. The Zeitouns were an interesting pair, with interesting backstory. Eggers is able to tell their story without inserting himself into the middle of it. He maintains tension through the middle; you really don't know what will happen to them.
Things I didn't like: The writing was a bit too simplistic and journalistic - like writing to an 8th grade reading level. I think Eggers could have branched out a bit more at the end, so I had some scope to tell if this story is representative (like, more than a paragraph about the final experiences of Zietoun's friends who had been caught up with him.)...more
Continuing my 2009 literary tour of horrible events... The book was good; readable, engaging, illustrative. I had actually bought into the media storyContinuing my 2009 literary tour of horrible events... The book was good; readable, engaging, illustrative. I had actually bought into the media story of bullied outcast kids finally exploding (with further help from Jody Picoult's "19 Minutes" or whatever it was called), along with the view of Columbine being in a cultural wasteland that further adds to the creation of pent up rage (thanks to Michael Moore). Although I still agree with the last point, in this case it seems pretty clear this could have happened anywhere. Psychopaths suck! The author's hate for Eric is so obvious throughout; he didn't seem totally objective there, or in his thinly veiled disdain of Christian Fundamentalism. Even so, it didn't detract too much from the book. I was very interested in the psychopath/sucidal-depressive dyad, and would like to read some more about where this combination has occured throughout history, and the results. (Cullen lists off a few in the book, but doesn't go into depth of any kind. Which he really couldn't have, since this book was about Columbine.) So, maybe next I should read "Hitler's Willing Executioners"? Just kidding, I've already read it. Maybe I should try to get off this disaster train. My world view is not so cheery these days....more
Really, really enjoyed this one. The author made even the dull parts (like fundraising) interesting. It was so good, that as soon as I finished, I wenReally, really enjoyed this one. The author made even the dull parts (like fundraising) interesting. It was so good, that as soon as I finished, I went online to see pictures and find out what happened since the book was published. Highly recommend!...more
Very interesting and well researched. I'm not sure if the author is biased, or if Scientology is simply that bad. Some of this stuff is unbelievable.Very interesting and well researched. I'm not sure if the author is biased, or if Scientology is simply that bad. Some of this stuff is unbelievable. At first, I wanted much more info about what they actually do in the audits and ceremonies. But the author points out that all that stuff is easily available on the web. So when I supplemented the history and insider info from this book with the basic Scientology documentation leaked on various websites, I feel I have a full picture. And, just... wow. ...more
This book was really good, but really painful. I had to put it down halfway through. I read enough to understand what happened, but knowing what was bThis book was really good, but really painful. I had to put it down halfway through. I read enough to understand what happened, but knowing what was being depicted was real (not fiction) was more than I could continue reading. My flaw, not the authors. ...more
I highly recommend everyone read this book. It has given me a lot to think about with respect to decisions that I will need to process at some point,I highly recommend everyone read this book. It has given me a lot to think about with respect to decisions that I will need to process at some point, both for myself and my family. I hope if enough people read this and push this perspective on aging and dying, more of us can look forward to a "good death"....more