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Brainy Books for Men

01 Inconvien

The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America
by Thomas King examines the interactions between white people and Native Americans in the U.S. and Canada. Not a history per se (King cares about language and chooses his words carefully), his accounting does cite historical texts and sources. The book questions what we accept as history, debunking widely held beliefs perpetuated by fairy tales and Disney fantasies. While sovereignty is essential for the self-determination of American Indians, in many ways it’s impossible for these nations or tribes to be truly self-sufficient, King says. Worse, he’s convinced that whites will essentially never stop trying to take Native American land or force native people to assimilate. A timely argument, considering Trump’s administration is currently suggesting that Natives are a racial group, not members of sovereign nations. King’s natural sense of humor keeps this story of loss from becoming despondent, and he does find hope. He writes, “Native cultures aren’t static. They’re dynamic, adaptive, and flexible. More than that, in the 500 years of European occupation, Native cultures have already proven themselves to be remarkably tenacious and resilient.” King leaves us with the hope that Native Americans will remain so, even as they continue to be inconvenient to whites and North American governments.  @UMinnPress — Jacob Anderson-Minshall

02 Brothers

Brothers of the Gun: A Memoir of the Syrian War by Marwan Hisham and Molly Crabapple is a gripping account of the cost of oppression and revolution in a long-troubled land. For Hisham and his fellow working-class friends, the Arab spring brought a glimmer of freedom to Syria. Inspired and optimistic, these college students joined protests against the oppressive regime of Bashar al-Assad. Five years later, one friend has died, another has become an Islamist revolutionary, and Hisham is now an exiled journalist living in Turkey. A collaborative effort with journalist and illustrator Crabapple, Brothers of the Gun is Hisham’s attempt to make sense of what has become of his country. Unable to openly work on the project in ISIS-occupied territory for fear of his life and safety, Hisham smuggled his pictures to Crabapple, who used them as the basis for her illustrations (which were later published in Vanity Fair). The pair continue reporting from both ISIS-controlled and rebel-held parts of Syria.  @penguinrandom — Donald Padgett
03 Black Both Sides

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity is the latest work by C. Riley Snorton, author of Nobody Is Supposed to Know: Black Sexuality on the Down Low. This time, Snorton examines the lives of early gender nonconforming African-Americans (including Christine Jorgensen contemporaries Lucy Hicks Anderson and James McHarris). He draws on a wide variety of archival materials: fugitive slave narratives, Afro-modernist literature, sensationalist journalism, Hollywood films, and the research of early sexologists. In doing so, Snorton traces our understanding of gender as a changeable thing back to slavery and the creation of racialized genders. He argues that just as there is pressure to conform to heteronormative behavior, there is also a transnormative narrative, which relies on what he calls “the negation of Blackness.” One could argue, the negation of other peoples of color (such as Native Americans)’s lived experiences of gender is similarly essential to the creation of modern (white) ideas about gender and the “transgender experience.” In challenging these narratives, Snorton calls on us to imagine new, Black- and trans-inclusive worlds.  @UMinnPress — JAM

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