A review of the terrific *Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair* by Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson

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The word “reparations” can kill a conversation faster than almost anything else in politics or religion. But it shouldn’t.

Most honest individuals would agree that the relationship between White people and Black people in the United States is in need of repair. That is what is meant by “reparations”. It is a comprehensive change in the lives and relationships of White people and Black people to repair what has been lost over many centuries. …


A review of Kate Masur’s new history, *Until Justice Be Done: America’s First Civil Rights Movement, From the Revolution to Reconstruction*

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Do you think it’s enough for laws not to discriminate based on race? Or should laws also be analyzed for their effects on different races?

This is an important question for today’s world, as mass incarceration has had a massively disproportional effect on the Black community while laws are forbidden to discriminate based on race. But it is also the basis of the most recent civil rights movement of the 1960s. Poll taxes and literacy tests did not explicitly discriminate based on race, but the effects were both clear and purposeful. But one movement, one that began over a century…


A review of a brand new FRANKENSTEIN reader’s guide edition by Karen Swallow Prior

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Sometimes, with a person, a concept, or a work of fiction, the whole of it seems so commonplace that we miss out on everything that makes that thing unique.

Or maybe, like Frankenstein’s monster, we are so scared of that thing (maybe of ourselves?) that we don’t give it the intimacy it deserves.

That is what I felt when reading Frankenstein for the first time, thanks to Karen Swallow Prior’s new reader’s guide edition. Karen Swallow Prior is a Research Professor of English and Christianity and Culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She began writing a series of reader’s guides…


My review of a brand new JANE EYRE reader’s guide edition by Karen Swallow Prior

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Have you ever read a story that, on the surface, you wouldn’t guess you would connect with, but you find yourself absorbing it at such a deep level that it becomes part of you?

Well, I finished reading Jane Eyre about 30 minutes ago and I’m fairly confident that’s what’s happening. But once again (just as in Heart of Darkness and Sense & Sensibility), I’m sure that I wouldn’t have enjoyed Jane Eyre or been affected by it to such an extent without the help of Karen Swallow Prior’s reader’s guide.

For the uninitiated, Karen Swallow Prior is a Research…


A review of *Useful Delusions: The Power and Paradox of the Self-Deceiving Brain* by Hidden Brain’s Shankar Vedantam

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One facet of a book that separates it from other avenues of media, at least for myself, is a book’s surprising ability to make you thankful for the author’s work even if you disagree with it. It seems to happen to me particularly often. Malcolm Gladwell’s ideas are about a 50/50 proposition whether I’ll agree with him or not, but I will always read his books and I’ll eventually catch up on all his podcasts too. I don’t agree with Ben Sasse on several points, but his books (The Vanishing American Adult and Them) are ones I recommend widely.

You…


A review of Amelia Pang’s brand new *Made in China: A Prisoner, an SOS Letter, and the Hidden Cost of America’s Cheap Goods*

“There is a darker side to China’s rags-to-riches transformation — and our own pleasure in the cheap products that we consume daily. During our endless search for the newest trends and the lowest prices, we become complicit in the forced labor industry.” — Amelia Pang

Amelia Pang’s new book, Made in China, has an almost-irresistible hook: A middle-class American woman, opening Halloween decorations, finds a folded piece of paper. It is a note. More accurately, an SOS letter. A man from the other side of the world was being forced to work in a labor camp making cheap decorative tombstones…


A review of Roy Richard Grinker’s new book, *Nobody’s Normal: How Culture Created the Stigma of Mental Illness*

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Who do you know that suffers from mental illness?

You can probably think of someone. Possibly many people. But if I had asked you the same question 20 years ago, you probably would have struggled to give an answer. Does that mean that mental illness is more common? No. It means people are more likely to seek help for mental illness and/or are more likely to talk about it. This is because the stigma of mental illness is being reduced in American society pretty quickly. Or, I should say, some mental illnesses. Some still bear the full brunt of stigma…


A review of Jessica Donati’s *Eagle Down: The Last Special Forces Fighting the Forever War*

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How old were you when the war in Afghanistan started in October 2001?

I was one month from turning 12 years old. Almost all Americans currently in their teens have not lived in a world where the United States does not have troops in Afghanistan. The Obama administration removed all troops except for Special Forces in an “advisory and training” role, but we know by now that such wording is only politics. As of four days ago, according to the Department of Defense, the United States has 2,500 service members in Afghanistan. That is the lowest number of troops there…


A review of James Oakes’s *The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution*

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There are two ledges that amateur and professional historians alike can veer toward in their analysis of Abraham Lincoln. The first is a hagiography of Lincoln that unabashedly celebrates him as “the Great Emancipator” at the forefront of the abolition movement who saw black and white equality exactly the same as many of us do today. This is not true. But the counter-narrative, that Lincoln was a white supremacist who used abolition of slavery only as a political tool and was only antislavery when it behooved him, is also not as supported as it may seem. James Oakes takes aim…


The best books to fill out your reading list for 2021

This year, I was able to read 80 books (five more than last year), so 2020’s list of favorite books has an even greater sample size from which to choose. (One of these days I will be able to reach the elusive “100”.) As usual, this is a collection of the best books I read in 2020, not the best of those published in 2020. That qualification is especially important this time, as half of my top ten were not published this year.

Jason Park

Book-reviewer, AP World History and AP Psychology Teacher. MAT Secondary Social Studies, University of Arkansas. Arlington, TX.

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