This book was an excellent read and for me a great introduction into both President Taft and the major journalists of the progressive era (as I was loThis book was an excellent read and for me a great introduction into both President Taft and the major journalists of the progressive era (as I was long familiar with T.R.). Her thesis is that Taft's failure as an administration was more due to a broad failure to communicate especially in comparison to TR who masterfully utilized and understood the press. But the book doesn't really narrow in here. It is a tale more than an argument. Goodwin Kearns is very sympathetic to Taft (quite possibly because we all should be) and it seems to me that the break between Taft and Roosevelt was more substantive than it is maybe served up here. Yes, ego --- especially Roosevelt's --- was at stake. But policy, and how to effect policy --- who to be friends with, how hard to push, etc. --- show true divides between the men. Frequently her addition of the press feels absent or --- worse --- forced. I'm not sure whether the press became less powerful during the same years Taft served or whether it didn't fit her narrative, but they lose out on a lot of space in the 2nd half. I wonder if it was just a perfect storm that brought out the windfall of passion among all the players here (if not policy) during TRs two terms. And then faded for the four years of Taft's term. Or maybe TR really was the storm all along. ...more
This is a tremendous study and story of a mythologized man. I have not read Malcolm X's autobiography so I can't reinterpret the man or the work. In aThis is a tremendous study and story of a mythologized man. I have not read Malcolm X's autobiography so I can't reinterpret the man or the work. In a lot of ways this was an introduction - I was no better versed than Spike Lee's film and pop culture history.
As a biography, the book is detailed, well-written and straightforward. There is no hero worship, no flowery excerpts, no hyperbole or unaccounted for filling in of gaps.
What is incredible is the gaps that remain and are outlined, especially in the murder of Malcolm X. The "coincidences" do not seem coincidental; Marable makes a strong case for the collaboration of either NYPD or FBI and the Nation of Islam. It is a shocking and sad place to be left in 2013 when we can look back on so much of our history - our historical wrongdoing - much more openly and honestly. Why are we not able to document more fully the loss of this man's life and our societal and governmental culpability? It hopefully will not be left with Marable's unwanted ellipsis.
For me this book was incredibly compelling in part because of Malcolm's political and intellectual leadership. I feel that we live in a time when we have fewer and fewer great orators, fewer and fewer public figures doing social justice work outside the framework of academia and elective politics. His role in effectively voicing the justifiable fury of black people (both domestically, and incredibly globally) and being the advocate for revolution is beautiful to me. That he began work in international coalition building and global anti-racism is a rarely told part of his legacy. This book gives Malcolm X's work and voice more substance and thus more power. ...more
A wonderful read, compelling and helpful. I kept thinking "who knew?" which in essense, is the very point of the book.
Skloot writes such that scienceA wonderful read, compelling and helpful. I kept thinking "who knew?" which in essense, is the very point of the book.
Skloot writes such that science and humanity are both illuminated and she brings both individuals and cells to life. She has helped make Henrietta Lacks immortal all over again.
It is hard to still know so little about Henrietta, and harder still to learn what we do know about her and her children and how mistreated they all were (and not just in relation to the use of Henrietta's cells). Her daughter Elsie's story is maybe the hardest, but it is a sad sad story throughout.
I think this was a perfect book. Not that you can't find flaws or that I tried to. But it did for me what only the very best books do.
It was captivatI think this was a perfect book. Not that you can't find flaws or that I tried to. But it did for me what only the very best books do.
It was captivating and well written. It was informative and detailed. It was human and lovely. It captured the heart of its story as well as the truth. It didn't romanticize but it humanized a significant and complex movement of peoples. It made me want to learn more.
By capturing the three parallel and distinct lives of Ida Mae, George Starling, and Robert Foster, all of the work and fear and explosiveness of migration can be felt --- in a way that speaking to hundreds alone briefly or to statistics broadly could never do.
Wilkerson describes her book as 3 books in one -- and the content in its breadth and focus can be described that way. But it doesn't feel like three books. It reads quickly and transitions effortlessly (which of course indicates just how much effort must have gone into it).
It doesn't leave out the broader landscape of black lives, segregation, Jim Crow, and all of the national dynamics that occurred between the 1920s and the 1970s. But it tells a story so untold and weaves it in in such an essential way - in the way that it transformed a country - that it is amazing that we can talk about any of these broader landscapes without including the transformative nature of the Great Migration. Truly, it is an essential piece of the depression, of the labor rights movement, of WWI and WWII on the homefront, of urbanization and the transformation of the North, on the development of labor and mechanization in the South. Not to mention all of the ways it shaped and transformed race relations, helped spawn the civil rights movement, and built a more diverse America.
What a huge story so well told. It is all you can ask of from a book. ...more