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  • The Shadow King jacket
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Review

The Shadow King

While reading The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, I was reminded of the David Foster Wallace novel Infinite Jest. On the surface, this may seem like a far-fetched and even absurd comparison — The Shadow King is a fictional account of the role of female soldiers in the 1930s Italian invasion of ...

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Beyond the Book

The Fusil Gras (Wujigra) in Ethiopia

In The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste, Hirut has a particular attachment to a rifle that her father gave her, a Wujigra, which she goes out of her way to retrieve after Kidane takes it away from her while stockpiling weapons for his army. 'Wujigra' is the Ethiopian term for the Fusil Gras, a ...

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Review

The Exiles

A young governess finds herself pregnant and in prison for theft and attempted murder. An Irish thief and herbalist finds her medical skills in high demand on a convict ship bound for Australia. A young Aboriginal girl is placed in the home of a British family where she is meant to become "civilized...

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Beyond the Book

Mathinna and the British Treatment of Aboriginal Australians

In The Exiles, Christina Baker Kline tells the stories of three women caught up in the British colonization of Australia and the nearby islands (which today form the Commonwealth of Australia). One of these stories is that of a young Aboriginal girl named Mathinna. Although Kline has embellished on ...

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Review

White Too Long

Religious scholar Robert P. Jones doesn't pull any punches in his latest book, White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity: "White Christian churches have not just been complacent; they have not only been complicit; rather, as the dominant cultural power in America, they ...

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Beyond the Book

Reparations for Black Americans

In White Too Long, Robert P. Jones makes clear that his view of racial justice includes a 'tangible economic accounting' of the ways in which churches have benefited from slavery and white supremacy, as well as restitution to the Black community. In doing so, Jones joins a large chorus of ...

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Review

Caste

In 2020, the word "racist" remains taboo. Conceptually, racism is so culturally unacceptable, so ugly and indefensible, that even the alt-right take pains to acquit themselves of accusations of it. However, despite the fact that almost nobody will admit to being racist nowadays, inequality and ...

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Beyond the Book

The Johnson–Jeffries Riots

In Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, Isabel Wilkerson describes how, in a caste system, challenges to the superiority of the dominant caste can produce 'an epic existential crisis.' This is particularly true for the people situated at the bottom rung of the dominant caste group (in the ...

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Review

The Deepest South of All

Author Richard Grant frequently uses his wanderlust to explore diverse stories that create a complex sense of place. Certainly Natchez, Mississippi proves worthy of close examination given its grim legacy of slavery on its once expansive cotton plantations. In The Deepest South of All, Grant reveals...

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Beyond the Book

The Parchman Ordeal

Richard Grant's The Deepest South of All examines the aftermath of slavery in the Deep South through the lens of Natchez, Mississippi. One clear inference that can be made from his Natchezian narratives is that the past must be confronted before it can lay dormant in its grave. Unfortunately, ...

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    Seduced by her employer's son, Evangeline, a naïve young governess in early nineteenth-century London, is discharged when her pregnancy is discovered and sent to the notorious...

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