Born Both

Born Both: An Intersex Life by Hida Viloria

HQ 77.98 .V55 A3 2017

“My name is Hida Viloria. I was raised as a girl but discovered at a young age that my body looked different. Having endured an often turbulent home life as a kid, there were many times when I felt scared and alone, especially given my attraction to girls. But unlike most people in the first world who are born intersex – meaning they have genitals, reproductive organs, hormones, and/or chromosomal patterns that do not fit standard definitions of male or female – I grew up in the body I was born with because my parents did not have my sex characteristics surgically altered at birth.

It wasn’t until I was twenty-six and encountered the term intersex in a San Francisco newspaper that I finally had a name for my difference. That’s when I began to explore what it means to live in the space between genders – to be both and neither. I tried living as a feminine woman, an androgynous person, and even for a brief period of time as a man. Good friends would not recognize me, and gay men would hit on me. My gender fluidity was exciting, and in many ways freeing – but it could also be isolating.

I had to know if there were other intersex people like me, but when I finally found an intersex community to connect with I was shocked, and then deeply upset, to learn that most of the people I met had been scarred, both physically and psychologically, by infant surgeries and hormone treatments to “correct” their bodies. Realizing that the invisibility of intersex people in society facilitated these practices, I made it my mission to bring an end to it – and became one of the first people to voluntarily come out as intersex at a national and then international level.

Born Both is the story of my lifelong journey toward finding love and embracing my authentic identity in a world that insists on categorizing people into either/or, and of my decades-long fight for human rights and equality for intersex people everywhere.”
– publisher description

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Secondhand Time

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets: An Oral History
by Svetlana Alexievich

DK 510.76 .A44913 2016

“When the Swedish Academy awarded Svetlana Alexievich the Nobel Prize, it cited her for inventing ‘a new kind of literary genre,’ describing her work as ‘a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.’ Alexievich’s distinctive documentary style, combining extended individual monologues with a collage of voices, records the stories of ordinary women and men who are rarely given the opportunity to speak, whose experiences are often lost in the official histories of the nation.

In Secondhand Time, Alexievich chronicles the demise of communism. Everyday Russian citizens recount the past thirty years, showing us what life was like during the fall of the Soviet Union and what it’s like to live in the new Russia left in its wake. Through interviews spanning 1991 to 2012, Alexievich takes us behind the propaganda and contrived media accounts, giving us a panoramic portrait of contemporary Russia and Russians who still carry memories of oppression, terror, famine, massacres – but also of pride in their country, hope for the future, and a belief that everyone was working and fighting together to bring about a utopia. Here is an account of life in the aftermath of an idea so powerful it once dominated a third of the world.

A magnificent tapestry of the sorrows and triumphs of the human spirit woven by a master, Secondhand Time tells the stories that together make up the true history of a nation. ‘Through the voices of those who confided in her,’ The Nation writes, ‘Alexievich tells us about human nature, about our dreams, our choices, about good and evil – in a word, about ourselves.'”
– publisher description

Not Just Jane

Not Just Jane: Rediscovering Seven Amazing Women Writers Who Transformed British Literature
by Shelley DeWees

PR 111 .D49 2016

“You’ve likely read at least one Jane Austen novel. Chances are you’ve also read Jane Eyre; if you were an exceptionally moody teenager, you might have even read Wuthering Heights. English majors might add a couple of others to this list . . . but there the trail ends. Were there truly so few women writing anything of note during late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain?

In Not Just Jane, Shelley DeWees weaves history, biography, and critical analysis into a rip-roaring narrative of the nation’s fabulous, yet mostly forgotten, female literary heritage. Focusing on the creative contributions and personal stories of seven astonishing women – Charlotte Turner Smith, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Robinson, Catherine Crowe, Sara Coleridge, Dinah Mulock Craik, and Mary Elizabeth Braddon – DeWees assembles a riveting, intimate and ruthlessly unromanticized portrait of female life, and the literary landscape, during this era. In doing so, she comes closer to understanding how a society could forget so many of these women – among them pioneers of detective fiction and the modern fantasy novel – who all enjoyed success, critical acclaim, and a fair amount of notoriety during their time, and realizes why, now more than ever, it’s vital that we remember.”
– publisher description

Walk Through Walls

Walk Through Walls: A Memoir by Marina Abramović

N 7253 .A27 A2 2016

“In 2010, more than 750,000 people stood in line at Marina Abramović’s MoMA retrospective for the chance to sit across from her and communicate non-verbally in an unprecedented durational performance that lasted more than 700 hours. This celebration of nearly fifty years of groundbreaking performance art demonstrated once again that Marina Abramović is truly a force of nature.

The child of Communist war-hero parents under Tito’s regime in postwar Yugoslavia, she was raised with a relentless work ethic. Even as she was beginning to build an international artistic career, Marina lived at home under her mother’s abusive control, strictly obeying a 10 p.m. curfew. But nothing could quell her insatiable curiosity, her desire to connect with people, or her distinctly Balkan sense of humor – all of which informs her art and her life. The beating heart of Walk Through Walls is an operatic love story – a twelve-year collaboration with fellow performance artist Ulay, much of which was spent penniless in a van traveling across Europe – a relationship that began to unravel and came to a dramatic end atop the Great Wall of China.

Marina’s story, by turns moving, epic, and dryly funny, speaks to an incomparable artistic career that involves pushing her body past the limits of fear, pain, exhaustion, and danger in an uncompromising quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. A remarkable work of performance in its own right, Walk Through Walls is a vivid and powerful rendering of the unparalleled life of an extraordinary artist.”
– publisher description

Bush

Bush by Jean Edward Smith

E 902 .S59 2016

“Nearly eight years after George W. Bush left the White House, his legacy still shapes American policy at home and abroad. Award-winning historian and biographer Jean Smith has written the most complete account yet of the Bush presidency in this revelatory biography of America’s forty-third president.

A lackluster student with a fondness for alcohol, “W” became a born-again Christian and turned his life around. His deep religious faith rescued his character, but it gave him a worldview that oversimplified complicated problems. For Bush, life was a struggle between good and evil, and he never doubted that he was God’s agent for good. In the fight against the evil of terrorism, other countries were either with us or against us, as he once said. Certain of the morality of his actions, he had no misgivings about detaining terrorist suspects indefinitely at Guantánamo or authorizing unconstitutional surveillance activities in the name of fighting terrorism.

Bush called himself “the decider,” and Smith says that it was an apt description. Others have insisted that Vice President Dick Cheney made key foreign policy decisions in the Bush White House, but Smith shows that it was the president who was in charge, often acting without or even against the counsel of his advisers. No other president in modern times acted with such self-assured autonomy.

Smith credits Bush with leading the global fight against AIDS, improving relations with China, reducing nuclear arsenals with the Russians, and insisting on higher educational standards with “No Child Left Behind.” But he led the country into the disastrous war in Iraq in response to the 9/11 terror attacks even though Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks. The war in Iraq dominated his presidency, and by toppling Saddam he paved the way for the rise of ISIS. He had to violate his own political philosophy to save the economy from collapse in 2008, but he still left his successor with the worst recession in seventy years. Not surprisingly, he exited the White House with the lowest approval ratings of any president in decades.”
– publisher description

Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown

Not Pretty Enough: The Unlikely Triumph of Helen Gurley Brown by Gerri Hirshey

PN 4874 .B768 H57 2016

“When Helen Gurley Brown’s Sex and the Single Girl, first appeared in 1962, it whistled into buttoned-down America like a bombshell: Brown declared that it was okay – even imperative – for unmarried women to have and enjoy a sex life, and that equal rights for women should extend to the bedroom and the workplace. “How dare you?” thundered newspapers, radio hosts, and (mostly male) citizens. But more than two million women bought the book and hailed her as a heroine. Brown was also pilloried as a scarlet woman and a traitor to the women’s movement when she took over the failing Hearst magazine Cosmopolitan and turned it into a fizzy pink guidebook for “do-me” feminism. As the first magazine geared to the rising wave of single working women, it sold wildly. Today, more than 68 million young women worldwide are still reading some form of Helen Gurley Brown’s audacious yet comforting brand of self-help.

“HGB” wasn’t the ideal poster girl for second-wave feminism, but she certainly started the conversation. Brown campaigned for women’s reproductive freedom and advocated skill and “brazenry” both on the job and in the boudoir – along with serial plastic surgery. When she died in 2012, her front-page obituary in The New York Times noted that though she succumbed at ninety, “parts of her were considerably younger.”

Her life story is astonishing, from her roots in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas, to her single-girl decade as a Mad Men-era copywriter in Los Angeles, which informed her first bestseller, to her years at the helm of Cosmopolitan. Helen Gurley Brown told her own story many times, but coyly, with plenty of camouflage. Here, for the first time, is the unvarnished and decoded truth about “how she did it” – from her comet-like career to “bagging” her husband of half a century, the movie producer David Brown.

Full of firsthand accounts of HGB from many of her closest friends and rediscovered, little-known interviews with the woman herself, Gerri Hirshey’s Not Pretty Enough is a vital biography that shines new light on the life of one of the most vibrant, vexing, and indelible women of the twentieth century.”
– publisher description

Patient H.M.

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich

RC 394 .A5 D58 2016

“In the late 1930s, in asylums and hospitals across America, a group of renowned neurosurgeons embarked on a campaign to develop and refine a new class of brain operation – the lobotomy – that they hoped would eradicate everything from schizophrenia to homosexuality. These “psychosurgeons,” as they called themselves, occupied a gray zone between medical research and medical practice, and ended up subjecting untold numbers of people to the types of surgical experiments once limited to chimpanzees.

The most important test subject to emerge from this largely untold chapter in American history was a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison. In 1953, Henry – who suffered from severe epilepsy – received a radical new version of the lobotomy, one that targeted the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry left the operating room profoundly amnesic, unable to create new long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pic who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.

Luke Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world. Throughout, Dittrich delves into the enduring mysteries of the mind while exposing troubling stories of just how far we’ve gone in our pursuit of knowledge.

It is also, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison – and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation – experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.

Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.”
(publisher description)