Katha Pollitt starts out with a position as bold an unapologetic as the cover of her book: pro-abortion. You heard right: not pro-choice, but pro-aborKatha Pollitt starts out with a position as bold an unapologetic as the cover of her book: pro-abortion. You heard right: not pro-choice, but pro-abortion. Abortion, she argues, should not only be legal, it should be seen as a normal part of women's health care. Writing for what she calls the "muddled middle", that broad swath of America that doesn't think abortion should be entirely illegal but also doesn't think women should be having them, Pollitt not only puts forward a strong and persuasive case for abortion, she also refutes each claim put forward by anti-abortionists (pro-life, she says, is a misnomer), and then goes on to dissect the true motives of the anti-abortionists.
I came to Pro as one of the muddled middle. Although I believed that abortion should be legal up to 20 weeks (as enshrined in law by Roe v. Wade), I also believed it should be an agonizing and difficult decision of last resort. Although I'm still not as gung-ho about abortions as Pollitt is, she definitely changed my mind....more
Rebecca Solnitt has assembled a short collection of essays, loosely united by the theme of feminism, that can be read in a single day, or even a singlRebecca Solnitt has assembled a short collection of essays, loosely united by the theme of feminism, that can be read in a single day, or even a single evening if you put your mind to it. I suggest you do. Solnitt is at turns poetic, serious, somber, reflective, philosophic, and factual--but she is always thought-provoking and lyrical. A beautiful and powerful book....more
Roxanne Gay calls herself a "bad feminist": she listens to rap with lyrics that degrade women; she likes dresses and shaves her legs; she admits the dRoxanne Gay calls herself a "bad feminist": she listens to rap with lyrics that degrade women; she likes dresses and shaves her legs; she admits the desire to give up some of her independence and let someone else take control of certain aspects of her life; her favorite color is pink. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, I would say Gay is an excellent feminist. There is no fiery, bra-burning rhetoric in Bad Feminist, only the simple (and radical, as Marie Shear wrote) belief that women are people, and should be treated as such.
"People" are very important in Bad Feminist. In every essay--and the topics range widely, from Scrabble competitions to the Sweet Valley High books to Gay's own heartbreaking personal experience with rape--Gay talks about people. People are good, people are bad, people are contradictory. People can be feminists and still like the color pink. Always, Gay shows a profound understanding that people are flawed and imperfect, and as long as they're at least trying to be a little less flawed and little less imperfect, that's ok. Bad Feminist is a thoughtful and thought-provoking book that should be read by everyone--especially those who aren't sure "feminist" is right for them....more
In grade school the "Cahokian civilization" received a passing mention in our textbooks somewhere between the Bering land bridge and the arrival of thIn grade school the "Cahokian civilization" received a passing mention in our textbooks somewhere between the Bering land bridge and the arrival of the Pilgrims. I remember being fascinated by the idea of it: a people worthy of the appellation "civilization," who built enormous and mysterious mounds across the landscape. At the time, I imagined pre-Pilgrim North America to be a great wilderness dotted with picturesque villages full of half-naked Indians, who hunted and gathered no more than what they needed to survive. My textbook did little to correct me. I don't recall any explanation given for why the Cahokians built their mounds, or any other information about the Cahokians at all--besides that they existed.
Cahokia: Ancient America's Great City on the Mississippi not only satisfies my not-forgotten curiosity, it also dispels many of the myths surrounding how Native Americans lived before European contact. Here is no wilderness, no scattered villages, no subsistence hunting: instead, a thriving metropolis filled with class distinctions, consumption of luxury resources, organized warfare, public spectacles, even human sacrifice. In short, a civilization--for better or for worse.
Although Pauketat writes with authority and a clear knowledge of his subject, he nonetheless did not satisfy all of my curiosity. Working primarily from the perspective of the archaeologists who have excavated Cahokia and the light their findings have shed on this ancient city, he inevitably leaves large gaps. What was everyday life like in Cahokia? How did Cahokia rise and fall? What was its history? Pauketat doesn't say.
Pauketat does his reader credit by assuming he or she already has a working knowledge of North American prehistory. For those that do not, some small sections can be slightly frustrating. Pauketat occasionally makes mention of, for example, the Moundbuilders, or the archaeological site at Spiro. For those who are unfamiliar with these sites or cultures, the references are obscure and confusing. Also, the chapter "Discovery at Mound 72" quickly left me confused as to which pits contained what, and when they were created. All in all, none of these details are necessary to understand Pauketat's message, but I think the book would be improved with the inclusion of a larger map, showing the locations of ancient sites and historical tribes throughout the Plains and Southeast regions, and also a timeline of Cahokia.
This is a great starting point for someone who, like myself, is curious about Cahokia and is looking for an accessible yet scholarly book to satisfy that curiosity....more
I picked up this book to learn a little about the pre-Christian origins of Halloween, but wound up reading all the way to the end because it's interesI picked up this book to learn a little about the pre-Christian origins of Halloween, but wound up reading all the way to the end because it's interesting, informative, and well-written. A slim little book, it doesn't take very long to read; Rogers avoids unnecessary verbosity in favor of concise (but not terse) language. The only time I found myself skimming was the section on horror movies, which Rogers analyzes in far greater depth than I think necessary. This is really the perfect book for anyone interested in the origins and history of Halloween. ...more
I really don't know why this book has such a low average rating, 'cause it's an enjoyable book and worth the four stars I gave it.
In some ways the jacI really don't know why this book has such a low average rating, 'cause it's an enjoyable book and worth the four stars I gave it.
In some ways the jacket description is misleading, because the focus is really on Thomas Morde, explorer and spy, rather than Native culture or even the Cuidad Blanca itself. The reason for the author's obsession with Morde--the many similarities and parallels in their lives--is developed throughout the book. The narrative alternates between Stewart's adventures and Morde's.
The parallels between Jungleland and The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon are obvious. Z is a better book, I think because it incorporates more anthropology and archaeology. Jungleland would be much improved by adding some of that, but once you understand, however, that the book is really about Thomas Morde and not lost Central American civilizations, you see why that's missing....more