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review 2017-09-18 12:45
Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen
Lightning Men: A Novel - Thomas Mullen

 

Atlanta in 1950 was a crowded place. The war was over and housing was scarce. Racial tensions were brewing, neighborhood lines were being redrawn,  and not everyone was happy about that. Even the fact that black policemen now served in the Negro areas of Atlanta didn't mean these officers had the respect of white officers nor that of the residents. When a white man gets beaten down by the Klan and then a Negro beaten down a few days later, tensions threaten to erupt. What happens next? You'll have to read Lightning Men to find out!

 

I was excited when I discovered there was a sequel to last year's Darktown. I was surprised at what I learned from that novel and I learned a lot from this one as well. For instance, I'd never heard of the Columbians before. Apparently, this group of neo-Nazis formed, (and so soon after the war in what must have felt like a direct insult to the soldiers and survivors now living in Atlanta), to unite their hatred of both Jews and Negroes. They even dressed similarly to the SS officers in Germany, hence their nickname: lightning men. 

 

I also learned a lot about how the neighborhoods changed during that less than peaceful time in American history. It's often painful to read about, but it's interesting to see events from several different points of view. Rake, Boggs, Smith and MacInnis are well rounded characters and even now, after a second novel, I think they all still have some secrets in reserve. None of them are perfect and they are all struggling to find their place in this new world, their new police station, (even if it is in the basement of the YMCA), and in their new neighborhoods. Social change doesn't come easy and I think all of these characters recognize and respect that in their behavior, which made them believable to me and maybe a little lovable too.

 

Lightning Men is scary in a way, because it's easy to recognize some of the behaviors from this story on the nightly news today. It's also sad that so much good can begin to be undone by just a few hateful people in high places. Not only is this story a good one, but it reminded me that America always has to remain vigilant,  so that everything we have worked so hard for as a people, is not undone by only a powerful few. 

 

Highly recommended! You can get your copy here: Lightning Men

 

*Thank you to NetGalley & Atria for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2017-06-24 22:43
Not all that interesting.
The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brie... The Making of Black Lives Matter: A Brief History of an Idea - Christopher J. Lebron

I was curious about the book as the title intrigued me. There are a lot of misconceptions about what "Black Lives Matter" means and while I've read a few other books that deal with the genesis of the movement I thought this would be a good text to read.

 

As the summary says it's an "intellectual history" of how we got here. While Black Lives Matter may be a relatively new concept in terms of how it appears as a hashtag, its movement on social media, the offline work activists do and where it goes from here, author Lebron looks at the historical origins of the movement, looking at history and intellectuals that would eventually give rise to the movement.

 

I suppose what should give it away is that it's an "intellectual history", which is a phrase taken right from the book flap and summaries of the book. Thinkers such as James Baldwin, Frederick Douglss, Ida B. Wells, Martin Luther King, Jr., and others are discussed.

 

I feel a little bad because I'm not sure how to review this. I don't disagree with his framing or arguments but was this text ever boring. It's quite academic while at the same time I wish it wasn't so concise. I'm not sure how long the text could be to fully address this but I found it very difficult to get into. He addresses events out of chronological order (contrasting current events like the death of Trayvon Martin with the lives of historical thinkers) which in itself wasn't bad in my point of view but it felt jarring to move back and forth and sometimes I wasn't quite sure what point he was trying to make.

 

What really throws it off for me is that this is really more about the history of BLM. The founders of Black Lives Matter (Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi) are barely mentioned and I suppose part of it is that I thought thought more about the actual event of how Black Lives Matter came to be (hence the title). I understand that this might not have been the author's aim so maybe my expectations and the actuality were a mismatch.

 

I certainly don't discourage people from reading it but it may or may not match what you think the book is about. I guess I had thought (since I make it a point not to read too many reviews or marketing material so as not to frame a book) that this book would be more like Wesley Lowrey's 'They Can't Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement', which is a more contemporary look based on Lowery's on the ground reporting. 

 

Borrowed from the library. It's a relatively slim book so it might be best to borrow first and see if you want it for your own collection.

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review 2017-04-25 19:06
American Vampire Volume 4 by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Jordi Bernet
American Vampire, Vol. 4 - Scott Snyder,Rafael Albuquerque,Jordi Bernet

There were three stories in this volume and I enjoyed them all!

 

Pre-vampire Skinner Sweet and his childhood friend Jim Book, , 50's greaser vampire-hunter Travis Kidd and his badass hot rod, and lastly Calvin Poole living life as a black vampire in the 60's.

 

We were all over the place, time-wise, in this one, but that was cool because the times were interesting. Also, Skinner Sweet wasn't in this one all that much, which I thought was a good thing.

 

I do wish we got to see more of Pearl and Henry, but what we did see has me stoked for the next volume, which luckily is sitting there waiting for me on my reading table at home. Onward!

 

These may not be the best graphic novels ever, but I sure am enjoying the hell out of them just the same.

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review 2017-04-03 22:54
Kindred by Octavia Butler, narrated by Kim Staunton
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler,Kim Staunton

Expecting to be knocked out by this book, I was a little disappointed.

 

 Yes, it's an excellent time travel tale and I learned some things about slavery. However, I expected/wanted the prose to be...exquisite, yet what I received were somewhat simple sentences and a lot of repetition. Lastly, I couldn't help but want an explanation for the time travel-something, anything. Any attempt at all would have been better than nothing in this humble reader's opinion.

 

I listened to this on audio, narrated by Kim Staunton and I thought her voicing was perfect.

 

I'm glad that I finally read this classic, but I'm not sure I'll tackle it again in the future.

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review 2017-03-15 16:03
Good enough for what it is
Black History in Its Own Words - Ron Wim... Black History in Its Own Words - Ron Wimberly

Interesting enough - a short series of quotes by black activists over the years, all illustrated with portraits. Good enough for what it is.

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