Kind of repetitive - Solomon makes essentially the same point in each section, and continually links the differences he profiles back to his own experKind of repetitive - Solomon makes essentially the same point in each section, and continually links the differences he profiles back to his own experiences being gay in a phobic family. This would not be a problem if he didn't do it in every chapter - made me feel like he wanted to write a book about HIMSELF as much as or more than about the people he profiles. The sections on Down syndrome, severe (usually multiple) disabilities, autism, and deafness were the most interesting; the sections on crime and rape were interesting but felt somehow unrelated to the rest of the book. The 'crime' section in particular felt thin and underdeveloped especially when compared to the very lengthy sections on Deaf and Dwarf. Great to give attention to these various differences and affiliated groups/cultures; the anecdotes and the families Solomon interviews are by far the best aspect of the book. A mixed review, though I totally support Solomon's project of valuing difference. ...more
Really interesting and well written, though with a couple of repeated errors that some editor missed. Nicolson organizes much of the book around silenReally interesting and well written, though with a couple of repeated errors that some editor missed. Nicolson organizes much of the book around silence, both literal and metaphorical, and it works beautifully as a structuring element.
I am horrified, though, after reading it, that I can't find any books *about* Harold Gillies, the doctor who essentially invented facial reconstruction surgery after WWI. Someone needs to write that book. ...more
Very well-written account of the events before, during, and after the shootings at Columbine. Cullen does an exceptionally good job of refraining fromVery well-written account of the events before, during, and after the shootings at Columbine. Cullen does an exceptionally good job of refraining from moralizing or attempting to frame this story within a larger context - he simply tells the story, in an engaging and intelligent style. Clearly very well-researched, this may be as close to a "neutral" account of the massacre as could be written. I particularly like Cullen's explorations - via the FBI agent/clinical psychologist who did the analysis - of the motives and psychology of the two shooters; he resists the urge to dramatize (it's already a dramatic, and tragic, story), and he doesn't sympathize with OR attack the killers - this is not about Cullen's opinion, it's an effort at documenting the truth in as much as it can be known. Cullen is also careful to identify, then debunk, a number of the myths and misinformation about the shootings that proliferated in the days, and even years, following.
Excellent work by a clearly intelligent and gifted journalist....more
not overwhelmingly well-written; felt poorly organized, jumped around in chronology from place to place. A fascinating story, but the book could havenot overwhelmingly well-written; felt poorly organized, jumped around in chronology from place to place. A fascinating story, but the book could have benefitted from some tighter editing, or maybe just more focus - Scotti writes about multiple locations, in what feels like no particular order, including too many details about places that are clearly of less interest to her than the coastal Rhode Island communities she attempts to place at the center of the book. ...more
Another excellent work of narrative history from Adam Hochschild. This is the story of the creation of the abolition movement in England - and its worAnother excellent work of narrative history from Adam Hochschild. This is the story of the creation of the abolition movement in England - and its work in abolishing the slave trade in the Empire. Hochschild devotes much less time and attention to the eventual emancipation of all slaves in the Empire, but this works here because much of his focus is on how the abolition movement constitutes what is essentially the first grassroots activist cause. At the heart of the movement, and this book, is Thomas Clarkson, the man who brought the energy and drive that led to the abolitionist movement and its success. Clarkson, whose name was unknown to me prior to this book, is a true hero in every sense of the word, working tirelessly for the cause for decades; he is also one of the few who also consistently advocates for full emancipation of all slaves in the Empire. Of interest to me, as someone who has taught composition classes, is that Clarkson's interest in abolition was aroused by an essay he wrote for the Cambridge Latin prize (he won. then realized someone needed to end the slave trade, and, when he saw no one leading a movement in this direction, took it upon himself to end the trade). The tactics of the abolitionists are fascinating, especially - as Hochschild notes repeatedly - at a time when something like 9 out of 10 English people couldn't vote. The abolitionists' use of petitions and boycotts gave power to otherwise disenfranchised citizens (women and the working-class, as Hochschild details), and it really is a monument to the power of a well-organized and committed group of people working towards a common goal. Hochschild also devotes considerable attention to the role played by the Quakers, without whom the abolition movement may not have gotten off the ground. In a lovely bit of writerly skill, Hochschild uses references to the Quaker practice of not removing their hats (except when praying; not even for the King of England would they uncover their heads) to very moving effect at the end of the book. One of the other major players in the book is Olaudah Equiano, author of his autobiography (a book which I have read for more than one lit course) - Equiano was, evidently, an extraordinary man, and one wonders how much further civilization would be progressed had men (and women) like Equiano not been enslaved, had they been allowed to fully pursue science, politics, the arts, etc. Hochschild is a great writer of history, especially history surrounding injustice - and the social movements that grow up to correct or end those injustices. Highly recommended....more
rather hard to rate this, because - "I liked it" is not an accurate representation of my reaction. Instead, I was appalled thoroughly, which means therather hard to rate this, because - "I liked it" is not an accurate representation of my reaction. Instead, I was appalled thoroughly, which means the book did its job. And as a piece of historical evidence, this is an incredible work; Rajchman is one of very few Jews to 1) arrive at Treblinka and not be killed 2) survive working at Treblinka and 3) survive the revolt and escape from Treblinka. As one of the dedicated death camps, existing solely to exterminate European Jews, Treblinka was kept largely undocumented by Nazis; part of Rajchman's work, in fact, consisted of making sure that all traces of dead bodies (even small bits of bone) were erased, reduced to the finest of fine ash, buried under sand and dirt. No Jew was supposed to make it out of Treblinka alive; the fact that Rajchman lived there for a *year* is miraculous enough. The fact that he managed to escape and survive through to the end of the war (ultimately emigrating to Uruguay; he died in 2004, clearly having lived a long, and I fervently hope, a happy, life) and record his experiences in such clean prose is beyond miraculous. Not recommended for casual or light reading, obviously. ...more