Posted in arc

First Ladies of the Republic Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, and the Creation of an Iconic American Role by Jeanne E. Abrams

The publisher kindly let me see a copy of this book, hoping for an honest review. What do you think of when you hear the phrase American political history? Who are the people you think of? I’m guessing that you think of; the founding fathers, followed by a succession of white, male, presidents. This book seeks to rectify this by looking at the women who shaped Washington, America, and the world. It looks at the wives of the first presidents; Martha Washington, Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison.

It outlines; their lives, how they met their husbands, their role within their partners’ journey to power, their feelings towards their role of first lady, their relationships with each other and the ways that they shaped Washington.

The works only flaw lies in its structure. At times, it gets repetitive. Each first lady gets her own section, outlining her biography. However, since many presidents served in the administration of their predecessor, many of their stories overlap and repeat. With the end of one narrative being repeated in the middle of the next narrative. For example, you are told the story of Martha Washington, which was a really interesting read, but then part of the narrative was retold in the story of Abagail Adams when John Adams became Washington’s vice president. This narrative flaw had a negative impact on the readability of the work. But, that said, I am really glad that I read this book.

This book is a useful addition to a cannon of historical literature whose main aim is to celebrate Womens’ contribution to the world. In addition, it is a valuable contribution to the Political history of the USA. I recommend it to history geeks like myself.

Posted in Uncategorized

Short catch up review In Search of Our WarrIor Mothers By La Donna Forsgren

In Search of Our WarrIor Mothers
Women Dramatists of the Black Arts Movement
By La Donna Forsgren
Northwestern University Press

Please be aware that I received this book, via Netgalley, from the publisher in the hope of an honest review. This book looks at the U.S. Black arts scene of the 1960s/1970s. In particular, it explores the Black theatre movement, focusing especially on the role of African American women within that movement. The author focuses their attention on the role of; Martie Evans-Charles, J.e. Franklin, Sonia Sanchez, and Barbara Ann Teer. The work seeks to shine a light on the work of these three relatively forgotten artists. The author seeks to highlight the contribution of these artists to our understanding of; race, gender, and community.

This work is part of a trend in literature, and the wider arts movement, to draw attention to neglected voices. It is a very valuable contribution to that tradition. In addition, it is an enjoyable read. I highly recommend

Posted in Book review, Uncategorized

Transitioning; a review of queer sex (by juno roach) and written on the body (ed. Lexie Bean) trigger warnings the books reviewed here contain discussions of sexual violence and other issues that may cause concern to certain readers. Read when you feel strong enough

Please be aware that I Recieved these books from the publisher, via NetGalley, in the hope of an honest review and that both of these books, and this review, could be triggery for sexual violence etc Since these books, share a similar focus, I am going to review them together. They both deal with transgender experiences of all kinds, outlining; the physical nature of living as a transgender individual, the violence that the authors have experienced as a product of society’s hostility to their identity, the authors’ experience of the various aspects of the transgender/queer experience, their feelings concerning their own identity, the authors’ relationships with their physicality, and the variety of changes that can occur within bodies undergoing a varied array of transitioning experience.

Written on the Body is in the form of letters to various parts of the physical torso. They look at the authors’ ambiguous relationships with various aspects of their physicality. Some authors explore the effects of physical, and sexual violence, on their feelings towards the chosen body part. While others, discuss what happens when a body part feels wrong or uncomfortable. They discuss their struggles to come to terms with a body that feels at odds with their perceived identity. These letters are moving and insightful. They are a must read for anyone; undergoing transition, anyone who is thinking of undergoing the process, those who identify as transgender/queer, or anybody who simply wishes to get a glimpse into the experiences of queer/transgender individuals.

Queer sex begins with the author’s exploration of their relationship with their body and their physicality/ sexuality. The author then goes on a; physical, emotional and spiritual journey. In the course of their journey, the main author speaks to their mentors about their experiences of; living in their body, navigating a world that is often hostile to that body, and finding a way to live their own chosen identity. These conversations deal with issues of; confusion, pain, self realisation, growing self confidence and pride.

Queer sex deals with issues, of; self hate, social norms and their effects on our self image, self love, pride, and self empowerment. It grounds personal experience in; communal narrative, and an existing theoretical framework; thus, providing a multilayered investigation of a slice of the queer experience. It is well worth a read

As a Cis disabled woman, these books: gave me a glimpse of an experience that I cannot share. At the same time, the stories of the narrators’ lives allowed me to dwell on my own experience of living in an, occasionally, hostile body. Therefore, reading these books was an emotionally moving, challenging, empowering, and ultimately joyous experience. These books are worth a read

Posted in arc

More Than a Doctrine The Eisenhower Era in the Middle East by Randall Fowler

More Than a Doctrine
The Eisenhower Era in the Middle East
by Randall Fowler

Publication date May 2018

It is widely believed that president Eisenhower was a boring non-entity. That he was continually playing golf, letting others deal with the day to day management of the country. It was believed that he was inept and knew little about foreign policy. This book seeks to rectify that belief.

This book analyses the Speeches given by Eisenhower, looking at the rhetorical devices used by the president to move public opinion his way and to move the country to a more interventionist Stance, especially when it came to the ‘Middle East’. It showed how he often allowed other people to speak, hiding his own very active involvement in the world behind the actions of others. Moreover, the work highlights the way that America sought to hide their involvement in the gulf region by placing countries, such as the United Kingdom, in visible positions, using these countries to cover America’s increasing power within the Middle East.

This book has an academic feel with close and dense analysis of texts. This may inhibit the general reader. But, this very well written book is well worth a read.

Posted in arc

Crusade and Jihad The Thousand-Year War Between the Muslim World and the Global North By William R. Polk

Source Netgalley (this book was given to me by the publisher in the hope of an honest review

Publication date 9th January 2018

I am very behind on reviews. This year has been hellish. So, for the next few weeks I will be catching up by writing really basic, short reviews. Here’s the first.

Polk has reported from many global hotspots during the course of his career. This book is his attempt to begin to put the pieces together. He explores the relationship between the ‘Muslim East’ and the ‘Christian West’. From the Moguls to the modern day, it spans the Muslim/Arab world; from Africa to the ‘Middle East’, from China to Europe, and all stops in between. It looks at this history in order to explain the present day. Polk looks at the tensions that exist between ‘East and West’, analysing the horrors of colonialism and the seeds of today’s terrorism, The book explores the origins of many of today’s most active terrorist organisations. This is a long book, a hard read that may intimidate the casual reader, but it’s worth the effort.

Posted in plans

2018\2019 projects

Summer vacation projects

From now til October

Man Booker read – reading the long list

Year long reading project

October to june

I will read only women writers

Research project

The fabians

Posted in award lists, awards

Man booker announced

The list is out and the fun begins. I am glad that overstory is on the list. Surprised that there is a graphic novel. Are you going to read the list.

Belinda Bauer (UK) Snap (Bantam Press)

Anna Burns (UK) Milkman (Faber & Faber)

Nick Drnaso (USA) Sabrina (Granta Books)

Esi Edugyan (Canada) Washington Black (Serpent’s Tail)

Guy Gunaratne (UK) In Our Mad And Furious City (Tinder Press)

Daisy Johnson (UK) Everything Under (Jonathan Cape)

Rachel Kushner (USA) The Mars Room(Jonathan Cape)

Sophie Mackintosh (UK) The Water Cure (Hamish Hamilton)

Michael Ondaatje (Canada) Warlight(Jonathan Cape)

Richard Powers (USA) The Overstory (William Heinemann)

Robin Robertson (UK) The Long Take(Picador)

Sally Rooney (Ireland) Normal People (Faber & Faber)

Donal Ryan (Ireland) From A Low And Quiet Sea (Doubleday Ireland)