Tag Archives: Book Review by Kam Williams

Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama


David J. Garrow, Barack Obama, Book Review by Kam Williams, Genevieve Cook, Pulitzer Prize-winnerRising Star
The Making of Barack Obama 

by David J. Garrow

William Morrow

Hardcover, $45.00

1472 pages

ISBN: 978-0-06-264183-0

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention instantly catapulted him into the national spotlight and led to his election four years later as America’s first African-American president. In this penetrating biography, David J. Garrow delivers an epic work about the life of Barack Obama, creating a rich tapestry of a life little understood, until now…

In Rising Star, Garrow has created a vivid portrait that reveals not only the people and forces that shaped the future president but also the ways in which he used those influences to serve his larger aspirations. This is a gripping read about a young man born into uncommon family circumstances, whose faith in his own talents came face-to-face with fantastic ambitions and a desire to do good in the world.” 

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

For some reason, presidential biographies by Pulitzer Prize-winners tend to be rather lengthy. Consider David McCullough’s on John Adams (752 pages) and Harry Truman (1120 pages), Doris Kearns Goodwin’s on Abe Lincoln (1,341 pages) and FDR (760 pages), and Robert Caro’s continuing series on LBJ (3,180 pages and counting).   

Now, another Pulitzer Prize-winner, David J. Garrow, has published an epic opus of 1,472 pages on the life of Barack Obama, focusing on the years prior to the presidency. And it’s a safe bet that Garrow just might eventually write a sequel about about POTUS 44’s time in the White House, too. 

Any Obama fan is likely to find this in-depth portrait fascinating, as it is filled with plenty of little-known factoids and anecdotes about him. For example, it chronicles a childhood spent mostly on Hawaii where he was basically raised by his maternal grandparents in the absence of both his mother and father.

Garrow also documents “Barry’s” use of marijuana in high school and of cocaine in college, when he started preferring “Barack.” And the author reveals the identity of the woman Obama lived with for a couple of years during his stint in Chicago as a grassroots organizer.

We also learn that Obama not only worked with a lot of Bible-thumping sisters during his initial stint in the Windy City, but that he was already planning to become president of the United States way back then. And there’s the blow-by-blow of his strained relationship with Genevieve Cook, the rudderless white woman he dated during his tenure in New York City.

Everything you always wanted to know about Barack Obama but were afraid to ask, and then some!

To order a copy of Rising Star, visit: https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0062641832/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News 

The Meaning of Michelle


Michelle Obama, First Lady, 16 essays by a variety of admirers, priceless keepsake, role model, book review by Kam WilliamsThe Meaning of Michelle
16 Writers on the Iconic First Lady and How Her Journey Inspires Our Own

Edited by Veronica Chambers

St. Martin’s Press

Hardcover, $24.99

236 pages

ISBN: 978-1-250-11496-9

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Michelle Obama is unlike any other First Lady in American History. From her first moment on the public stage, she has challenged traditional American notions about what it means to be beautiful, to be strong, to be fashion conscious, to be healthy, to be First Mom, to be a caretaker and hostess, and to be partner to the most powerful man in the world. What is remarkable is that, at 52, she is just getting started.

A rollicking, lively, dinner-party conversation about race, class, marriage, creativity, womanhood, and what it means to be American today, The Meaning of Michelle offers a parting gift for a landmark moment in American history.” 

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Barack Obama made history by becoming the first African-American President of the United States. Of almost equal significance was Michelle Obama’s becoming the first black First Lady.

Just as her husband undoubtedly inspired a generation of marginalized youngsters to believe that they could achieve anything they set their minds to, Michelle was a transformative figure in her own way, including the way she helped the world appreciate black beauty. Because of the high visibility of her position, almost single-handedly, she managed to successfully challenge the culture’s narrow definition of beauty based on European features.            

For this and myriad other reasons, Michelle was embraced by fellow black females. And many of them are delineated in The Meaning of Michelle, a reverential retrospective acknowledging a debt of gratitude owed to a much-beloved icon.

Edited by Veronica Chambers, the book is composed of 16 essays by a variety of admirers, each accomplished in their own

Michelle Obama, First Lady, 16 essays by a variety of admirers, priceless keepsake, role model, book review by Kam Williams
Veronica Chambers

right. One, Chirlaine McCray, is even a First Lady, being married to New York’s Mayor, Bill de Blasio.

The diverse list of contributors includes luminaries from all walks of life, including filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Harvard professor Sarah Lewis, mezzo-soprano Alicia Hall Moran, and best-selling novelist Benilde Little, to name a few.   Consider this offering by DuVernay who waxes romantic reflecting upon a “First Lady with pride, panache and polish.”

A priceless keepsake positioning for posterity Michelle Obama as a positive role-model for the ages.

To order a copy of The Meaning of Michelle, visit:


Source:  GIG News

From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation


From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, Haymarket Books, book review by Kam WilliamsFrom #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation

by Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor

Haymarket Books

Paperback, $17.95

286 pages

ISBN: 978-1-60846-562-0

Book Review by Kam Williams

“The eruption of mass protests in the wake of the police murders of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in New York City have challenged the impunity with which officers of the law carry out violence against Black people and punctured the illusion of a postracial America. The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists.

In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor survey the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation.” 

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

How did the Black Lives Matter movement manage to emerge at a time when so many people considered America to be post-racial? After all, the nation had not only elected its first African-American president in 2008, but had witnessed an emergence of black political elites both in Washington, D.C. and in so many cities across the land.      

Recall how the Congressional Black Caucus, led by John Lewis, endorsed Hillary Clinton while questioning Bernie Sanders’ civil rights credentials. That support has effectively delivered over 90% of the African-American vote to Clinton in state after state, arguably making the difference between her winning in losing the Democratic nomination.

But according to Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, there is a “growing polarization between black officials and ordinary blacks living in urban communities.” She further asserts that African-Americans in positions of power “are just as eager as white officials to invoke racial stereotypes to cover their own incompetence, from claims about cultural inferiority to broken families to Black criminality.”

In From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, Professor Taylor explores why opposition to police brutality suddenly became an explosive rallying cry a couple years ago, despite its having been around as an issue for many generations. The author, who teaches African-American Studies at Princeton University, also devotes considerable ink to a historical discussion of icons like Dr. Martin Luther King and Lyndon Baines Johnson as well as to such hot button topics as colorblindness, American exceptionalism, the criminal justice system and the roots and rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Overall, this incendiary tome amounts to a scathing indictment of “racism, capitalism and class rule” as oppressors of the black masses, President Obama’s occupying the White House notwithstanding.

To order a copy of From #Black Lives Matter to Black Liberation, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1608465624/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News

Risky Medicine


Risky Medicine, Our Quest to Cure Fear and Uncertainty, by Dr. Robert Aronowitz, M.D. University of Chicago Press, Book Review by Kam WilliamsRisky Medicine

Our Quest to Cure Fear and Uncertainty

by Dr. Robert Aronowitz, M.D.

University of Chicago Press

Hardcover, $26.00

284 pages

ISBN: 978-0-226-04971-7

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Will ever-more sensitive tests for cancer lead to longer, better lives? Will anticipating and trying to prevent the future complications of chronic disease lead to better health? Not always… In fact, it often is hurting us.

Exploring the transformation of health care over the last several decades that has led doctors to become more attentive to treating risk than treating symptoms or curing disease, [this book] shows how many aspects of… clinical practice are now aimed at risk reduction…

This transformation has been driven in part by the pharmaceutical industry, which benefits by promoting its products to the larger percentage of the population at risk for a particular illness, rather than the smaller percentage who are actually affected by it…

Risky Medicine is a timely call for a skeptical response to medicine’s obsession with risk, as well as for higher standards of evidence for risk reducing interventions and a rebalancing of health care to restore an emphasis on the actual curing and caring for people suffering from disease.”

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Once upon a time, doctors took the Hippocratic Oath promising to “First, do no harm.” Of course, that was before they handed over control of the health care industry to pharmaceutical and insurance companies far more focused on profits than people. And that was also prior to the rise of defensive medicine in response to the explosion of malpractice lawsuits.

The upshot is that many physicians nowadays could care less about what’s best for their patients, since they get their marching orders from a combination of avaricious executives and litigation-fearing corporate attorneys. Consequently, doctors are increasingly devoting less attention to healing the sick than to figuring out ways to improve their balance sheets.

Overwhelming evidence of this development can be found in the trend towards testing and anticipatory

Risky Medicine, Our Quest to Cure Fear and Uncertainty, by Dr. Robert Aronowitz, M.D. University of Chicago Press, Book Review by Kam Williams
Author Robert Aronowitz

treatment. Instead of waiting for a person to fall ill or exhibit symptoms, practitioners have become advocates of increasingly early attempts to diagnose a disease, on the theory that catching it early will improve a patient’s prognosis.

But is that actually the case? That is the assumption vociferously disputed by Robert Aronowitz, M.D. in Risky Medicine. Dr. Aronowitz asserts that “overdiagnosis and overtreatment” have played a role in the “cost and quality crisis in American medicine.”  He says the problem is that mere risk factors and early signs of disorders are being treated as aggressively as if they were full-blown diseases, without regard to the patients’ quality of life and financial best interests.

Required reading for anyone at all skeptical about how the practice of medicine evolved from simply treating symptoms and curing diseases to playing on fears and subjecting patients to a seemingly neverending battery of expensive, invasive and often unreliable tests.

To order a copy of Risky Medicine, visit:

Source:  Baret News

Why Bernie Sanders Matters


Why Bernie Sanders Matters

A Nation Will Not Survive Morally or Economically

When So Few Have So Much and So Many Have So Little

by Harry Jaffe

Regan Arts

Paperback, $17.95

238 pages

ISBN: 978-168245017-8

Book Review by Kam Williams

“What is the source of Bernie Sanders’ appeal? How did he become a socialist? How did he develop his ability to excite crowds? How can he make an audience forget that he talks like a deli guy and sometimes looks like a rumpled old man ranting about rich people?

A Nation Will Not Survive Morally or Economically, When So Few Have So Much and So Many Have So Little, by Harry Jaffe, Book Review by Kam WilliamsHe first started talking about the gap between rich and poor in America and the disappearing middle class in 1970, 45 years before he announced his White House bid. He was considered an anomaly and ignored.

Most politicians would have changed course at that point… Not Bernie. Every speech, every appearance, he hammered away on the economic and political forces that were killing America’s middle class.

He did it when it was out of fashion, when Republican conservatives scoffed at him, and when the Democrats dismissed him. Now income inequality and saving the middle class are the economic issues of the day.

That’s only one of the reasons [why] Bernie Sanders matters.”

— Excerpted from the Introduction (pages xi-xiii)

A low point in Senator Berrnie Sanders’ presidential campaign arrived last summer in Seattle when a couple of sisters representing the Black Lives Matter movement stormed the stage and snatched the microphone away from him before he even had a chance to speak. The 74 year-old Senator from Vermont ended up leaving the event without addressing the crowd.

Today, Bernie is giving his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton a run for the money, but still isn’t getting much respect from the African-American community. After all, the Congressional Black Caucus recently endorsed his opponent, including Representative John Lewis (D-GA), who specifically questioned the veracity of Sanders’ civil rights credentials.

Nevertheless, the truth ought to matter, and if you prefer to decide who to back based on the facts, you might like to check out Why Bernie Sanders Matters, a fascinating biography of the inveterate socialist running for the Democratic nomination.

This informative book was written by Harry Jaffe, editor-at-large at Washingtonian Magazine. Earlier in his career,

A Nation Will Not Survive Morally or Economically, When So Few Have So Much and So Many Have So Little, by Harry Jaffe, Book Review by Kam Williams
Harry Jaffe

the reporter served as Press Secretary to Patrick Leahy, Vermont’s senior Senator, which means the author has close ties to the state Bernie represents.

Jaffe traces the arc of Bernie’s life, starting with his working-class Jewish roots in Brooklyn where he was first exposed to socialist ideas. We learn that he had his consciousness raised at an early age, having been influenced by the untimely demise of his parents as well as the rise of the Civil Rights Movement in the Fifties.

While attending the University of Chicago in the Sixties, he became a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality. In that capacity, he participated in the very first sit-in in the history of the Windy City, a protest of the school’s segregated housing policy.

Bernie has remained committed to progressive politics ever since, whether demonstrating against the Vietnam War, railing about income inequality or calling for universal healthcare. A longtime advocate for radical change who has never flip-flopped on the issues.

To order a copy of Why Bernie Sanders Matters , visit:

Source:  Baret News

The Street God


The Street God
I Won without Telling

by Christian Hayward

The Street God Entertainment

Paperback, $29.99

268 pages

ISBN: 978-0-9964967-0-4

Book Review by Kam Williams

“This is a story about a small boy who started out as an innocent child raised by his grandmother in one of Cleveland’s worst neighborhoods (East 93rd). As you read the
The Street God, I Won without Telling, by Christian Hayward, Book Review by Kam Williamsuncut, unedited comeback story, it will help you understand how easily environmental and life experiences can shape and mold a harmless, impoverished child into a violent outlaw without any regard for authority or mercy for a human being.”

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Don’t let Christian Hayward’s given name deceive you. He’s no altar boy. In fact, he freely admits that he’s “robbed and done everything violent under the sun.”

The Cleveland ex-con’s saving grace is a brutal honesty about his checkered past combined with a wonderful way with words. The upshot is a warts-and-all autobiography oozing so much street cred that you never question its veracity for a second.

Quite the contrary. Instead, you tend to wince while reading and think “Too much information.” For instance, he recounts the evening in his teens he picked up Ms. B. at a school dance and started to seduce her in his aunt’s car only to change his mind because she stank up the car when she slipped off her panties. I’ll spare you the graphic details.

Later, he describes Poo, his first cellmate in Lorain Correctional, as “an older cat” with “light skin with big lips.” Christian was 18 then, as was a fellow inmate Rick, “a stick-up kid from my side of town.”

The colorful memoir is written in a stream-of-consciousness style that sounds spoken and
almost jumps off the page. The only problem is that there are virtually no role models or lessons of redeeming value in this rough world, whether the author’s talking about life behind bars or back on the street.

Consider this riveting account of a confrontation in jail. “That night… one of Crusher’s boys spit on the cell floor and I beat him like a woman and he was at least 6′ tall. He went out like a coward. He even stopped fighting back. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night nor the next morning.”

After finishing this fascinating bio, I can certainly concur with Christian’s conclusion that “My life was amazing, and I didn’t know if it was because I did time.”

To order a copy of The Street God, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/099649670X/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

The Street God, I Won without Telling, by Christian Hayward, Book Review by Kam Williams

Source: Baret News

Democracy in Black

Democracy in Black
How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul

by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.

Crown Publishers

Hardcover, $26.00

286 pages

ISBN: 978-0-8041-3741-6

Book Review by Kam Williams

“America’s promise has always rung hollow in the the ears of African-Americans, but today the situation has grown even more dire. From the murders of black youth by the police to the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act to the disaster visited upon poor and middle-class black families by the Great Recession, it is clear that black America faces an emergency…

 Democracy in Black, How Race Still Enslaves the American Soul, by Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Book Review by Kam WilliamsDemocracy in Black is Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.’s impassioned response.Part manifesto, part history, part memoir, it argues that we live in a country founded on a ‘value gap’–with white lives valued more than others…

Whether discussing why all Americans have racial habits that reinforce inequality, why black politics based on the civil rights era have reached a dead end, or why only remaking democracy from the ground up can bring real change, Glaude crystallizes the untenable position of black America—-and offers thoughts on a better way forward”

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Because the Founding Fathers saw fit to weave slavery right into the very fabric of the nation via the Constitution, many a historian has seen fit to refer to that evil institution as America’s original sin. Unfortunately, inequality between black and white has somehow persisted way past emancipation, despite pronouncements by political pundits that the election of the first black President had issued in a promising, post-racial era.

That is the contention of Princeton Professor Eddie Glaude who argues that the fundamental notion that “all men are created equal” was perverted ab initio by the fact that some were always valued less than others in the U.S. because of the color of their skin. In his new book, Democracy in Black, he indicts a malingering white supremacy that he sees as standing between blacks and the proverbial American Dream.

Instead of improving race relations, the author believes that Barack Obama’s ascension to the presidency has only served to embolden bigots. As proof, he points to “the increase in explicit racism” reflected in “the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and so many others.”

Glaude also talks about the widening wealth gap between blacks and whites which has left the African-American community devastated. Home foreclosures, poverty and an astronomical unemployment rate are just a few of the host of woes visited upon the ‘hood.

In allocating blame, the author places a fair share of it on the shoulders of the President,

Author: Eddie S. Glaude Jr. Photo credit: Sameer A. Khan
Author: Eddie S. Glaude Jr.
Photo credit: Sameer A. Khan

whom he refers to as a confidence man. “In 2008 and again in 2012, Obama sold black America the snake oil of hope and change,” he laments. Glaude is just as disappointed with those liberal black politicians who “refused to criticize the President” out of fear of appearing disloyal.

The upshot, he concludes, is that black America is far worse off now than before November of 2008, and that the solution resides in a grassroots uprising independent of “the confidence men and their false hopes.” That being said, in spite of the dire data, Glaude maintains an abiding faith that we are going to transform this nation via a revolution of value.

In sum, a highly-motivated Ivory Tower academic’s sobering clarion call to action and affirmation of the aspirations of the Black Lives Matter movement.

To order a copy of Democracy in Black, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0804137412/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Before I Forget


Before I Forget
Love, Hope, Help and Acceptance in Our Fight against Alzheimer’s

by B. Smith and Dan Gasby

Harmony Books

Hardcover, $25.00

336 pages

ISBN: 978-0-553-44712-5

Book Review by Kam Williams

“Restaurateur, magazine publisher, celebrity chef and nationally-known lifestyle maven B. Smith is struggling at 66 with a tag she never expected to add to that string: Alzheimer’s Before I Forget, Love, Hope, Help and Acceptance in Our Fight against Alzheimer's, B. Smith and Dan Gasby, Book Review by Kam Williamspatient… Part memoir, part caregiver’s guide, this work is a unique entry on the Alzheimer’s shelf.

Crafted in short chapters that interweave [B. and husband Dan’s] narrative with practical and helpful advice, readers learn about dealing with the day-to-day challenges of Alzheimer’s, family realities and tensions, ways of coping, and coming research that may tip the scale, as well as lessons learned along the way.

At its heart, Before I Forget is a love story illuminating a love of family, life and hope.”

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Barbara Elaine Smith was born on August 24, 1949 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Florence and William, a maid and a steelworker, respectively. The darling, little daughter would grow up to do her parents proud, embarking on a series of phenomenally-successful professional careers.

She started out as a model, becoming the first African-American to grace the cover of Mademoiselle. The talented Renaissance woman parlayed that success into endorsement deals and her own nationally-syndicated TV show, “B. Smith with Style.”

  She would also launch her own product line, publish a magazine and several cookbooks, and open restaurants in Manhattan, Washington, DC and out on Sag Harbor. With the help of her husband, B. built such a formidable business empire that she became widely known as “The Black Martha Stewart.”    

Unfortunately, upon consulting a doctor a couple of years ago because of a nagging forgetfulness, she received the devastating diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s. Although she and Dan have since reordered their priorities,  the two have steadfastly refused to allow the disease to either crush their spirits or diminish their love for each other. As B. puts it, “I’m still myself. I just can’t remember things as well as I once did.”       

In “Before I Forget,” she and Dan share their inspirational message of hope while issuing a rallying a cry to the African-American community which suffers from Alzheimer’s at over twice the rate of whites. The autobiography primarily focuses on the last five years of B.’s life, although it does devote a few chapters to earlier periods, including her childhood in Pennsylvania.

However, the thrust of the book is to kickstart a frank conversation about Alzheimer’s from recognizing the warning signs, to identifying its stages, to reciting lesson’s learned thus far. Above all, the memoir is a reaffirmation of a couple’s undying love, as evidenced by Dan’s waxing romantic with, “I am so grateful for the honor and pleasure of your company, and for the privilege of sharing your life.”

To order a copy of Before I Forget, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0553447122/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News

Year of Yes


Year of Yes
How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person

by Shonda Rhimes

Year of Yes, How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes, Book Review by Kam WilliamsSimon & Schuster

Hardcover, $24.99

352 pages,

ISBN: 978-1-4767-7709-2

Book Review by Kam Williams

“In this poignant, hilarious and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder, reveals how saying ‘yes’ changed her life–and how it can change yours, too.”

— Excerpted from the Bookjacket

Writer/producer Shonda Rhimes has created some of the most groundbreaking television series around. The gifted Renaissance woman is the brains behind such iconic characters as Scandal’s Olivia Pope, Grey’s Anatomy’s Dr. Meredith Grey, and How to Get Away with Murder’s Annalise Keating.

Despite being showered with accolades, however, Shonda pretty much remained under the radar for years, invariably turning down invites to deliver commencement addresses, to appear on TV talk shows and to attend posh showbiz soirees. And she always had ready excuses for remaining a homebody, between the three daughters she was raising as a single-mom and the incessant demands of a skyrocketing career.

Truth be told, Shonda was a painfully-shy introvert given to panic attacks prior to press conferences and other public appearances. Fortunately, she was finally forced on Thanksgiving Day 2013 to face her agoraphobia when her sister Delorse staged an intervention, asserting “You never say ‘yes’ to anything.”

Shonda grudgingly agreed to embark on an ambitious, yearlong project during which she would not only overcome her Year of Yes, How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, by Shonda Rhimes, Book Review by Kam Williamsinhibitions but work on her health, relationship and other ignored issues, as well. The upshot of that intrepid, personal journey is Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person, a warts-and-all memoir designed to inspire her admirers to overcome obstacles of their own.

Not surprisingly, Shonda has quite a way with words. For instance, you really feel what she experienced as she deliberately recounts the crippling stage fright that almost caused her to cancel a booking on Jimmy Kimmel. But after it goes well, the relieved guest celebrates in the green room with, “I did it… and I didn’t die.”

In sum, a combination opus doling out generous helpings of sensible advice while simultaneously exploring the mind of a brilliant power broker Time magazine’s has dubbed one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

To order a copy of Year of Yes, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1476777098/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News




My Dreadlock Chronicles

by Bert Ashe

Bolden / An Agate Imprint

Paperback, $15.00

252 pages

ISBN: 978-1-932841-96-1

Book Review by Kam Williams

“After leading a far too conventional life for nearly 40 years, Bert Ashe began the long, arduous and uncertain process of growing dreadlocks in an attempt to step out of American convention. As his hair takes on a life of its own and gets Twisted,  My Dreadlock Chronicles,  by Bert Ashe, Book Review by Kam Williams‘twisted,’ Ashe chronicles the reactions of his family, friends, strangers and colleagues—and his own frustration and bewilderment at his locked hair.

[This book] explores black hair, in all its untamed glory, from a man’s point-of-view. With humor and exacting self-reflection, Ashe uses his own experience not only to explain the history of dreadlocks, but also to unpack the complicated issues of identity, politics, gender and culture in America.

At its heart, Twisted tells a larger story about how we seek to distinguish ourselves, about how we may long to break out of conventional ways, and how these rebellions don’t always unfold according to plan.”

— Excerpted from the book jacket

Bert Ashe was coming of age in the Seventies around the same time that dreadlocks first became popular in the U.S. However, it wasn’t until about a quarter-century later, in March of 1998, that he finally decided to give the Rastafarian hairstyle a go.

But, by then, Bert was a happily-married family man raising a couple of impressionable young kids. Furthermore, his wife, Valerie, hailed from a military family, so she was understandably a little worried when he started “letting it grow out.” “Does it have to look so scruffy?” she inquired, contemplating the mushrooming of an unkempt, matted mess atop her hubby’s head.

Bert also had to be concerned with how the new ‘do would be received by his neighbors and colleagues. After all, not only did he reside in suburban Virginia but he was also a straitlaced professor of English at the University of Richmond. Thus, he wondered whether his sporting dreadlocks might be misread by some as a counter-cultural statement, despite his otherwise

Twisted,  My Dreadlock Chronicles,  by Bert Ashe, Book Review by Kam Williams
Author: Bert Ashe

orthodox appearance.

Bert’s intriguing experiment in coiffures is the subject of the very entertaining Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles. Written

in a delightful, stream-of-consciousness style reminiscent of the Beat Era of the Fifties, this surreal opus is essentially an introspective memoir rife with intimate reflections, offbeat asides (ala a Letterman-inspired Top Ten List), plus personal anecdotes in which you really get to know a lot about the author’s eclectic background which ranged from Pee Wee football to indie movies to mosh pit punk music.

Oh yeah, and dreadlocks, too!

To order a copy of Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles, visit: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1932841962/ref%3dnosim/thslfofire-20

Source:  Baret News Wire