Random Book Quiz Round 33: Non-Fiction

As Non-Fiction November comes to an end, I thought I would dedicate this round of the Random Book Quiz to non-fiction. Plus, with the winner of the Baillie Gifford prize also recently announced, it seemed the best time to tackle this round.

You know the drill: down below are 10 non-fiction books, and all you need to do is  guess who wrote them.

Good luck!

  • In Cold Blood

  • The Diary of a Young Girl

  • The Radium Girls

  • A Brief History of Time

  • A Room of One’s Own

  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

  • Black Boy

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

  • The Prince

The Interpretation of Dreams

Answers for Round 32

  1. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  2. Jane Eyre
  3. A Christmas Carol
  4. Moby Dick
  5. Dracula
  6. Rebecca
  7. Catch-22
  8. Les Miserables
  9. Animal Farm
  10. Lord of the Flies

4 Books for Non-Fiction November

Since we are now in the second week of Nonfiction November, it seems like a great time to suggest some recommendations. I only started reading nonfiction regularly two years ago – I was intimidated by it, frightened that I wouldn’t understand or would be bored by the information dumps and stale text. I was completely, utterly wrong and, having got over my fear of nonfiction, managed to discover some brilliant books. These are just 4 that I’ve enjoyed over the last couple of years, and if I have reviewed them on the blog, I will link to my reviews in case you want to know more.

But, without further ado, let’s dive into the books:

The Five – Hallie Rubenhold

Given how popular this book was at the beginning of 2020, I’m sure most people will have heard of it. But in case you haven’t, Rubenhold delves into the lives of the five canonical victims of Jack the Ripper, and discusses how the mythology surrounding the women came to be. The Five is a well-researched, refreshing take on a much-written about case. Yet Rubenhold focuses on the women, which in turn gives them their humanity back. They are not simply footnotes; they are living, breathing people whose lives up until this point had mainly been ignored. Another aspect that I really admired was how Rubenhold also explored life in Victorian Britain. She delves into how women lived in the 19th century and successfully conveyed a lot of information in an engaging, concise manner. Whilst Ripper enthusiasts may not like how Rubenhold barely discusses the case, The Five is still a fascinating glimpse into five women and their lives.

The Radium Girls – Kate Moore

I loved The Radium Girls so much it is still one of my favourite books of 2020. The book follows two sets of women working in radium-dial factories where they were obviously surrounded by this shining chemical, often going out covered from head to toe in it. Years pass, and the women begin to fall mysteriously ill. When they begin to realise the effect radium is having on them, they begin to complain and sue their employers, who claim that the chemical is harmless. The Radium Girls reads like a fast-paced thriller, it is just so engrossing. There were moments I couldn’t put the book down, I needed to know what was going to happen. The amount of twists and turns the story takes is remarkable, and it is hard to believe that it is non-fiction. In some ways, that realisation makes The Radium Girls equally horrifying and saddening yet powerful. One that I keep shoving into the hands of everyone I know.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou

Again, another one most people will surely know. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the first memoir by poet Maya Angelou, tracing her childhood from living with her grandmother to becoming a single mum at the age of 16. Angelou is incredibly candid about her youth, especially in regard to the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. The passages discussing this were hugely disturbing, and there were instances when I had to look away. But that isn’t my main takeaway from the book. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings ultimately feels like a book about hope, which comes from Angelou herself. By the end she is confident, determined young woman who is driven to achieve her dreams in life, and I found that admirable. Despite the trauma that she went through, she never lost hope and that helped make I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings perhaps the best memoir I’ve read.

The Big Screen – David Thomson

It wouldn’t be a non-fiction list without me adding a book about Hollywood, would it? Here Thomson takes on the mammoth task of discussing the entire history of film – from the 1880s to the present day (well, the 2000s, when the book was published). And he does a phenomenal job. Thomson evidently loves film, his passion seeps through his writing and in turn makes the reader become both interested and invested in what he’s saying.  He’s also a very witty writer, and his snarkier remarks made me smile. It helps make the book as a whole more engaging and accessible to readers. Another critic said The Big Screen made him want to watch all the movies mentioned on the biggest screen possible. I couldn’t agree more, and it spurred me to seek out some of the films I previously hadn’t seen. A must for all film buffs.   

Blog Tour: How to Stay Out of the Emergency Room by Dr Mona Balogh review

Dr Mona Balogh’s new nonfiction title How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room: Master Your Health and Find Joy in Life by Balancing the Power of Your Mind, Your Body and Your Higher Self is self-explanatory. After working in emergency rooms close to 30 years Dr Balogh noticed ‘frequent flyers’ as she calls them: people who repeatedly use ERs to address diseases and addictions, with little to no knowledge of their own illness or how to alleviate the pain. In How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room, Balogh has researched and collated various treatments from across the globe and how these practices can benefit mental and physical health.

Balogh is very eloquent, able to discuss complex theories and medical jargon in layman’s terms which makes the book incredibly accessible. It also makes How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room a quick read – she’s such an engaging writer that you just speed through. The various charts and graphs also help to illustrate and strengthen her arguments. She is also very understanding and sympathetic, as seen when she reflects on her former patients and the case studies that she brings up as examples. The inclusion of the different people was brilliantly done: the reader can catch a glimpse of the various circumstances that make people ‘frequent flyers’ and understand their pain a lot more, plus they allow Balogh to go in-depth into the multiple factors she believes could alleviate whatever illness they have.

How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room is essentially split into two sections: why people become regulars at their ERs and what they could do to help themselves. Balogh has helpfully added different exercises that people can take (e.g. meditation) that could relieve some suffering. Having those practical exercises, coupled with Balogh’s explanation as to why they are effective, again strengthens her arguments and provides clear examples of her main points. The amount of different techniques mentioned also highlights how passionate Balogh is about this topic and the amount of research dedicated to the book. In some ways How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room feels incredibly personal to Balogh herself, as well as her patients, and her energy and passion for the topic shines through and elevates the text.

The book serves as both a self-help guide and a look into life with chronic illness and addiction. Balogh expertly reveals what happens to these ‘flyers’ and the treatments that are available to them, but which they might not know about. It was also an interesting insight to being a doctor working in ER, and the challenges that come when dealing with repeat users. It’s a very well-written, researched piece of nonfiction.          

Thank you to Mari Angulo for letting me participate in the tour!

To win your own copy of How To Stay Out of the Emergency Room, click <a href="http://<a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4ab089741/&quot; rel="nofollow" data-raflid="4ab089741" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_2m0z9wxn">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js" data-type="URL" data-id="<a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/4ab089741/&quot; rel="nofollow" data-raflid="4ab089741" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_2m0z9wxn">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a> <script src="https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js">here.

About the Book

Over the course of twenty-seven years treating patients in emergency rooms, Dr. Mona Balogh observed a tendency – from diabetes to addiction – for some people to chronically use ERs to address their disease when lifestyle changes could help their condition immensely. How to Stay Out of My Emergency Room addresses a panoply of bad habits and addictions through captivating stories of Dr. Balogh’s interactions with patients who repeatedly returned to her emergency room due to their tendency to avoid making lifestyle changes.

The second part of the book moves into action, presenting a roadmap to creating healthy new habits complete with worksheets. By applying the Eastern concept of balance of opposing forces with the 12 Steps and Vipassana-inspired meditations, the book provides a foundation for the reader to help themselves escape from whatever unhealthy rut in which they find themselves. And In a series of powerful meditations we get in touch with our Higher Self.  How to Stay Out of My Emergency room calls upon time-honored principles to help us stop blaming everybody and everything around us and use tools outlined in the book to fulfill the vision that we have for ourselves and our life.

Not since the 7 Habits of Effective People has there been an “instruction manual” that powerfully presents such a positive program of living. This book will be useful to the health professional, the caregiver and for anyone who is ready to do what is necessary to transform their lives and become their very best self.  

About Mona

Mona Balogh is a retired emergency physician who received her medical degree at Southwestern Medical School. After she completed her residency in emergency medicine at Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center, Dr. Balogh worked in emergency rooms throughout Los Angeles. She also provided free healthcare to underserved populations in Los Angeles, and in Baja, California, with the Flying Samaritans.

Dr. Balogh discovered her passion for alternative medicine at an addiction medicine seminar, where she learned to combine evidence-based Western philosophies with Eastern therapies. Since then, Dr. Balogh has studied traditional Chinese medicine, herbal and homeopathic therapies, and acupuncture. She lives with her husband, Endre, in Chatsworth, California.

War is Personal by Roy & Elaine Wilkes review

War is Personal is one man’s memories of the Second World War. Roy Wilkes served in the Marine Corps as a teenager and was sent to both Okinawa and China. His daughter Elaine Wilkes has compiled notes and interviews Roy gave to give a moving account of one man’s experience of war.

The audiobook of War is Personal features two interviews Wilkes gave long after the war. While the sound quality is inferior to the first section, (which the listener is warned about) hearing Wilkes reminisce about his wartime experiences is perhaps the book’s greatest strength. I found it moving to hear his voice, hear the emotion behind it – I think being told a first-hand account makes the events much more impactful. Wilkes is also a very engaging narrator; he’s very humble and has a dark sense of humour which balanced out the more harrowing elements of his memories. As someone interested in the Second World War, I found the interviews of Wilkes interesting to listen to and learn about life in both Okinawa and China.

As mentioned above, the first part of War is Personal features narrator Kiff VandenHeuvel reading Wilkes’ notes. I had mixed feelings concerning this section. It does go into Wilkes’ experience of PTSD more, and that helped emphasise the effect the war had on him. The listener has a much clearer sense of that from the notes rather than Wilkes’ interview. The problem I had with the section was the repetition of language. The multiple references to mud and rain at first were very evocative: capturing both the emotional and personal hell soldiers went through at Okinawa. But by the end, it was a bit overdone – the sense of place, environment, the emotions were all fully established so the repetition felt unnecessary.

Despite this minor complaint, I found War is Personal a very interesting look at a significant period of history. It is a very personal account, and Wilkes is very candid at points which helps to make it all the more moving. The Epilogue, written and performed by Elaine Wilkes about her father, was also very touching and helped show how the war shaped Wilkes long after it had finished. VandenHeuvel is a great narrator, really capturing Wilkes’ emotions and the production quality as a whole was very high. The sound quality, while varying at different points, was really good; crisp and clear, every word easily heard. Those interested in World War Two history will find War is Personal a fascinating account.  

This review was first published on Readers Favorite. To find out more information click here.

Heart to Beat by Brian Lima, M.D

Brian Lima’s Heart to Beat: A Cardiac Surgeon’s Inspiring Story of Success and Overcoming Adversity is fairly self-explanatory. Lima looks back on his childhood growing up in a Cuban immigrant family and his struggles to achieve his dream: becoming a heart surgeon. After spending nearly twenty years in education and medical training to fulfil his goal, Lima reveals the lessons he learnt along the way.

The book’s biggest strength lies within Lima himself. He is very candid and open about his experiences in medical school and surgical training, reflecting on the decisions taken that either helped or hindered him. It was really interesting learning the many years one has to endure to become a surgeon, and the sacrifices Lima has made to achieve his goal. Whilst speaking from his experience of becoming a cardiac surgeon, Lima reiterates his life lessons or key points in a general, accessible manner so people can relate or implement them in their own lives. This accessibility is also emphasised through his writing style. It is generally quite relaxed and conversational, almost as if he is sitting in the room offering you advice. There is a fair bit of medical jargon but Lima breaks it down and explains clearly and concisely so it isn’t an issue. He’s a very charismatic, engaging narrator that you are more than happy to follow.

Heart to Beat is a mash-up of different genres. It is part biography, part medical non-fiction, and part self-help/motivational. It does lean a lot more into the latter, with many inspirational quotes sprinkled throughout the text. They didn’t always feel necessary as Lima’s journey is itself inspirational and applaudable and by the end, I didn’t find them enlightening. By contrast, I preferred when Lima weaved statistics into the narrative, for example when discussing how many experience heart failure yet because the disease doesn’t garner enough attention, many ignore symptoms. Or the even worrying idea that there might be a shortage of cardiac surgeons within 20 years. Lima presents his facts and figures as a way to compliment and strengthen his arguments regarding the problems his profession faces.

Overall, Heart to Beat is a really interesting, thought-provoking book. Lima expertly takes his own experiences and shows how what he’s learned can benefit other people. Certainly, watching him persevere to fulfil his ambitions is inspirational and his dedication is admirable. The book very much falls into the self-help category, even though I did enjoy the elements of biography. So if people are looking for a motivational read, then this is the book for you.      

Heart to Beat is published independently and you can find more information here.

Raising the Bottom by Lisa Boucher

As someone who enjoys a glass of wine now and then, Lisa Boucher’s nonfiction Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture sounded interesting. Boucher reflects on her own life and her relationship with alcohol, as well as other women’s experiences and the wider drinking culture.

Having a wide array of different women’s voices is one of the book’s main strengths. Not only does it help to strengthen Boucher’s arguments, but it also shows how alcoholism does not discriminate between age, class, or race. These stories, however, only appear midway into the book and perhaps it would have been more effective to have them more evenly spread throughout. Yet it is understandable that Boucher has chosen to focus on her and her mother’s relationships with booze. In this regard Boucher is incredibly candid and honest, not hiding darker periods of her life.  Raising the Bottom is a very revealing account of her journey to sobriety, and her thoughtful, well-written reflections are also one of the highlights of the book.

Yet there were a couple of problems with Raising the Bottom. The subtitle is ‘Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture’ yet there wasn’t any major discussions about the culture as a whole. Boucher does occasionally add statistics to help her point, but there is no discussion or reflection on what these statistics show. More emphasis on why these numbers are important would have helped emphasise the point Boucher is trying to make. Also, there is a lot about the 12 step AA programme. Again it is understandable: it helped Boucher with her alcoholism. Yet there is such an emphasis on AA that the reader never hears of alternative methods, or even women still in the programme and their thoughts on it. This also feeds into the idea that the book isn’t addressing the culture as a whole, and at times almost seems like an advert for AA.

Overall, Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture wasn’t quite what I was expecting. This is not the author’s fault; I was just simply expecting a more in-depth look into drinking culture. Equally, there were comments that Boucher made that I don’t agree with but that’s just a difference of opinion. But the consistent pushing of AA – plus giving no alternatives despite those options being available – turned me off. It seemed incredibly one-sided and quite repetitive by the end. If you’re interested in personal experiences of AA, then great. But if not, then I’m not sure this is the book for you.

Raising the Bottom: Making Mindful Choices in a Drinking Culture is published by She Writes Press and you can find more information here. This book was kindly given to me by the author and Booktasters for review.   

Chanel’s Riviera by Anne De Courcy review

In her introduction of Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence, and Survival in Peace and War, 1930-1944, Anne De Courcy writes, ‘This book is neither a biography of Chanel nor a history of the Riviera – both have been written many times before – but the story of the years during which Chanel spent her summers in that part of France’. Whilst it is true that the book is neither biography nor history, a lot of the action also takes place in Paris, where Chanel kept an apartment and later lived in the Ritz.

De Courcy does flit between the south of France and the capital with ease, and during the interwar chapters this really comes into its own. The reader is able to see the contrast between the two regions; for example, Paris suffered a great deal more during the war than the Riviera, which saw relatively little conflict until 1943/44. A lot of people escaped Occupied France to live in the unoccupied zone, and the difference in their lives is remarkable. Going between the two helped paint an overall portrait of a country torn in half by war; there is a real sense of the troubles happening across France rather than a specific area. This contrast can also be seen through the people De Courcy chooses to write about.

Obviously Chanel is mentioned throughout the book, but she isn’t the only person to make reoccurring appearances. There are many of her socialite friends, but there are also ordinary civilians, such as the British nurse Elsie Gladman who worked on the Riviera. By contrasting the comfortable life Chanel and her friends had with the deprivation and suffering of others less fortunate, De Courcy not only drove home the point of how powerful and privileged Chanel had become, but also the horror of warfare. The terrors that ordinary people were subjected to are told in a simple and straightforward manner; the simplicity made it all the more horrific.

However, the book also covers the pre-war life on the Riviera as well. Here is the glamour and decadence mentioned in the subtitle; chapters dedicated to discussing some of the Riviera’s wealthiest inhabitants. Many writers and artists, including Colette, Evelyn Wharton, Somerset Maugham, and Aldous Huxley, make appearances. And whilst I did enjoy reading about them, especially those whose works I’m already familiar with, the constant mention of socialites was draining. Most of them were interchangeable, and I never got much of a sense of their personality. De Courcy maybe gave you a brief personal history but that was it, and by the end of the book I couldn’t remember a good chunk of their names. The constant opulence of their lives was the thing that was discussed most, and since most of them enjoying partying, lunching, and just generally living a life of luxury, there wasn’t much to separate them. There were some fun nuggets here and there (‘At seventy Elsie, trim and fit from years of exercise and diet, reinvented herself, dyeing her hair blue, having a facelift and entering a fancy-dress ball by way of a cartwheel’) but overall none of them stood out.

If you’re interested in French history, in particular pre- and inter- Second World War, then Chanel’s Riviera might be worth checking out. As mentioned, it does give a great overall view to the country, and readers are given a sense of how both wealthy and working-class people lived. Whilst Chanel crops up in every chapter, she is not the main focus of the book, though De Courcy also provides a nice introduction to her life. Chanel’s Riviera is a great look into wartime France, and has made me start looking into flights to Nice.

Chanel’s Riviera: Glamour, Decadence and Survival in Peace and War, 1930 – 1944 is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and you can find more information here.   

Euphoria by Antonia Spice

Belgium. December 2018. When Antonia announces to her husband that she wants to divorce, he brings her in a psychiatric hospital by forced admission, for reasons of burn out and euphoric behavior.
After her release, Antonia flees the hospital and makes her spiritual journey to Mardin. Out of anger, her husband puts her on the list of missing persons within the European Union.
And the story continues…Happy Carpe Diem!

The novella is composed mainly of transcripts between Antonia and her psychiatrist, with letters and court scripts in between. This made the story much more intimate and personal; there were moments you feel like you’re reading someone’s diary. As a result, there is a connection to Antonia as we witness the changes throughout her life. The layout is very engaging and dynamic, and certainly a great choice for diving into someone’s interior life.

Antonia’s story by itself is admirable. She abandons the comfort and safety of a good job and loving family to embark on a spiritual journey and discover herself. Reading how she has grown as a person through these experiences, how her outlook on life has changed, was quite remarkable. Yet she also doesn’t shy away from the heartbreak of divorce and the difficulties that come with that.

Yet, ultimately, Euphoria didn’t work for me, and the key reason for that is its length. At 70 pages it is too short, and a lot of things are missing from the narrative. A key one is the reasons why she is being admitted to the psychiatric hospital. The reader is told them briefly in the court transcripts but there’s no exploration into them. For example, Antonia wishes to visit a Syriac Orthodox Church near Mardin, Turkey. Her husband, however, insists that she wants to buy a monastery in Syria. But why? Why does he believe she wishes to buy a monastery instead of merely visiting one? Why does he insist Syria when the one Antonia mentions (and visits) is in Turkey? These questions are never answered; admittedly, her husband is not the focus of the piece, but he never expands upon his reasoning in court or letters. The lack of information makes the whole novella a bit baffling.

Euphoria is not a bad book. The layout is great and works wonderfully for the plot, plus Antonia is an engaging narrator. It just needs more information added. The idea of a husband forcibly admitting his wife to a hospital because she has an increased interest in sex, dances late at night, and wants to visit a monastery is odd. Something feels missing for the reader to truly understand the novella and Antonia’s plight. Euphoria has a lot of promise, but never quite hits the mark.   

The Contender by William J Mann review

Let’s be honest: The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando doesn’t need much of an explanatory introduction. What is slightly different about this biography however, is that Mann doesn’t provide a full, in-depth play-by-play of Brando’s life but instead chooses key moments of the actor’s life to discuss.

This structure works really well for the most part, though occasionally Mann has to do a small synopsis to catch the reader up on what has happened between chapters. It helps focus the book on Mann’s assertion that Brando has been misinterpreted or misunderstood for decades, accidentally or otherwise. By only looking at certain points in his life, Mann is able to streamline his argument and does provide quotes from both Brando and others to back up his point of view. Mann has done an incredible amoubt of research and its evident.  The chapters themselves focus on significant times in Brando’s life, but also ones his fans will already know about: his Oscar wins (and his infamous rejection of) for On the Waterfront and The Godfather,  his participation in various civil rights causes. The book treads very familiar ground, and it is at its best when it speaks of a younger Brando, living in New York in the 40s and 50s, going to acting class. This content feels new, a glimpse of the legendary actor we’ve never seen before. More moments like this would have helped the book feel more fresh.

One of the issues I had with The Contender though was its repetitiveness. Brando had a tough childhood – a fact I will never debate – but Mann brings this up constantly throughout. We don’t need to be told that his problems with women stem from his relationship with his mother five or six times; that could have been inferred. It felt like Mann didn’t trust his reader to see the connections between different events, and therefore keeps reminding you again and again (and again). By the end of the book it became a bit tiresome. There were also times when Mann seemed to be excusing Brando’s more questionable behaviour by linking it back to his abusive past. His relationships with various women, where his behaviour was cruel, is a prime example. Whilst Mann does call out Brando for his actions, it feels very mild, plus we get the obligatory mention of his mother. Mann is clearly a fan of the actor, and it seems as though his admiration for Brando sometimes makes it hard for him to be objective about Brando’s more questionable behaviour.

Overall, The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando is a good introduction to the legendary actor, so I would recommend it to those who are maybe unfamiliar with his life. Certainly I learned a lot about the man behind the movies. Mann concisely takes us through a handful of pivotal moments, and the book is expertly written and researched. Like I mentioned above, there were a couple of problems with the book which stopped me from absolutely loving it. But Brando was a remarkable man, and it is clear why Mann chose to write a biography about him. His outrage at seeing African American and Native Americans being abused and killed, his worries of a President attacking the press and curbing freedom of speech, and his concerns about global warming, are all still sadly relevant. This is a fascinating, if flawed, look into an equally fascinating and flawed man.

The Contender: The Story of Marlon Brando is published by Harper and you can find more information here.

 

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? ed. by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macaré & Alana Yu-Lan Price review

The essay collection Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States has been doing the rounds in the bookish community since the murder of George Floyd. The title sums up what these essays are about, all written by either investigative journalists or activists, and includes a foreword by Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza.

What impressed me most about the collection was how diverse it is. Whilst most of the essays deal with police violence against black people, there are also essays discussing racism against Indigenous populations. It was harrowing to see the similarities between the two groups and it also created a much fuller picture of racism within the US. It was truly fascinating and eye-opening to see how black and Indigenous activist groups have supported, and also caused harm to, one another over the centuries, something I knew little of. Equally, the essays concerning women and LGBT experiences of police violence were shocking yet necessary reading, as a lot of what was mentioned seems to not have gained significant media attention. These were stories that had to be told and addressed, and the fact the collection gives a lot of time to them is a huge plus. The diversity of the essays and their writers means the collection looks at a lot of different topics and gives them a spotlight.

Whilst the content itself is deeply disturbing, all the essays are beautifully written. They break down concepts in a way in which everyone can understand, even those who don’t know much about systemic racism and police violence. You come away from the collection understanding a lot more, and a big part of that is the accessibility of the writing. The writers successfully balance making things easier to understand but never talk down or being condescending to the reader. But they also never lose the humanity beneath the stories. They focus first and foremost on the people who have been affected by violence throughout, despite the swaths of numbers and statistics that would be very easy to get lost in. Not that they aren’t important, but having the people at the heart of the essay really hammers home the main topic, plus creates a connection between the reader and those affected.

Another aspect that worked really well was splitting the collection into two. The first half focused on the devastating effects police violence has had on predominantly black communities. The second half looks at ways of keeping those communities safe, and reducing (or even eradicating) policing in these areas. The range of alternatives mentioned in this section is far-reaching and provides an excellent overview of options that can be used not involving the police. Some examples used are already in operation in some areas, which helps to strengthen their arguments. A highlight in this half is Ejeris Dixon’s essay ‘Building Community Safety: Practical Steps Toward Liberatory Transformation’. Here Dixon not only discusses alternatives but also reflects on her work as an activist, and what she has learned over the years. It gave an insight into the work activists do and the trials that come along with it.

It is saddening that since its publication in 2016, the topics dealt in Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? are still timely in 2020. The collection is very US-centric but I think people outwith the United States will still be able to understand even relate. This is a very harrowing, disturbing essay collection but one that is necessary.

Who Do You Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States is published at Haymarket Books and you can find more information here. At time of writing, this book is available free as an E-Book.