Call Them by Their True Names
Rebecca Solnit is the author of more than twenty books including the international bestseller Men Explain Things to Me. Called “the voice of the resistance” by the New York Times, she has emerged as an essential guide to our times, through incisive commentary on feminism, violence, ecology, hope, and everything in between.In this powerful and wide-ranging collection of essays, Solnit turns her attention to the war at home. This is a war, she says, “with so many casualties that we should call it by its true name, this war with so many dead by police, by violent ex-husbands and partners and lovers, by people pursuing power and profit at the point of a gun or just shooting first and figuring out who they hit later.” To get to the root of these American crises, she contends that “to acknowledge this state of war is to admit the need for peace,” countering the despair of our age with a dose of solidarity, creativity, and hope.

Call Them by Their True Names Details

TitleCall Them by Their True Names
Author
ReleaseSep 14th, 2018
PublisherHaymarket Books
ISBN-139781608469468
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Writing, Essays, Politics, Feminism, Social Movements, Social Justice

Call Them by Their True Names Review

  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.Uneven in quality, Rebecca Solnit's latest work examines a broad array of American crises through the lens of a single theme: the power of calling injustices by their true names. Call Them by Their True Names addresses a wider range of subjects than Solnit's previous two Haymarket-released collections. Whereas the essays of Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions focused mostly on the many forms of My full review, as well as my other thoughts on reading, can be found on my blog.Uneven in quality, Rebecca Solnit's latest work examines a broad array of American crises through the lens of a single theme: the power of calling injustices by their true names. Call Them by Their True Names addresses a wider range of subjects than Solnit's previous two Haymarket-released collections. Whereas the essays of Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions focused mostly on the many forms of gendered violence, these essays consider everything from the threats posed by climate change to the gentrification of San Francisco to Trump’s erosion of democracy. The 166-page collection of 18 essays, though, never feels scattered. The best of the essays are stellar, but many read as interesting sketches toward longer meditations.
    more
  • Thomas
    January 1, 1970
    Another great essay collection from a leading feminist writer. In Call Them by Their True Names, Rebecca Solnit takes aim at the Trump administration and its racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. She addresses an impressive array of topics, including gentrification, environmental justice, speaking truth to power, and more. When I read her work, I can tell she has dedicated her life to these progressive causes and to writing about them. The depth of her travel and reporting communicates a courageous d Another great essay collection from a leading feminist writer. In Call Them by Their True Names, Rebecca Solnit takes aim at the Trump administration and its racism, sexism, xenophobia, etc. She addresses an impressive array of topics, including gentrification, environmental justice, speaking truth to power, and more. When I read her work, I can tell she has dedicated her life to these progressive causes and to writing about them. The depth of her travel and reporting communicates a courageous dedication to her subject matter. When Solnit gets it right, she really gets it right - she can make strong intellectual points in the most poignant and resonant of ways. For example, a passage about politics and storytelling:"Politics is how we tell the stories we live by: how we decide if we value the health and well-being of children, or not; the autonomy of women's bodies and equality of our lives, or not; if we protect the Dreamers who came here as small children, or not; if we act on climate change, or not. Voting is far from the only way, but is a key way we shape the national narrative. We choose a story about who and what matters; we act on that story to rearrange the world around it - and then there are tax cuts to billionaires and children kicked off of federal land protected and support for universities. We live inside what, during postmodernism's heyday, we'd call master narratives - so there's always a question of who's telling the story, who is in charge of the narrative, and what happens if that changes."I also appreciated the connections Solnit makes in these essays. She draws parallels between "tight-lipped masculinity" and the fear of penetration engendered by xenophobia, between the idea of "preaching to the choir" and the consequences of voter suppression, and more. She has such a brilliant mind. The only reason I give this book four stars instead of five is because at times I felt Solnit overlooked her own privilege as a white woman, such as by only providing surface-level commentary on white women's complicity in Trump's election in "Milestones in Misogyny" or when she ignored the pulsating fear of the most marginalized (e.g., immigrants) under the Trump administration in "Hope in Grief." Overall, though, another amazing set of essays by Solnit, even though I still wait for one that matches the glory of The Mother of All Questions . I always appreciate Solnit's focus on taking action, and I wanted to end this review with another quote about politics and how we view those with more justice-oriented ideas:"Objective is a fiction that there is some neutral ground, some political no man's land you can hang out in, you and the mainstream media. Even what you deem worthy to report and whom you quote is a political decision. We tend to treat people on the fringe as ideologues and those in the center as neutral, as though the decision not to own a car is political and the decision to own one is not, as though to support a war is neutral and to oppose it is not. There is no apolitical, no sidelines, no neutral ground; we're all engaged."
    more
  • Kathleen
    January 1, 1970
    National Book Award Nonfiction Longlist 2018. Solnit is a feminist, a progressive, and a stellar writer. Her essays are intended to elicit a reaction—to think about the words we use.“To name something truly is to lay bare what may be brutal or corrupt—or important or possible. A key to the work of changing the world is changing the story, the names.” She prefers to use new descriptors when describing societal issues—“prison-industrial complex”, “affirmative consent”, or “unburnable carbon”. I pa National Book Award Nonfiction Longlist 2018. Solnit is a feminist, a progressive, and a stellar writer. Her essays are intended to elicit a reaction—to think about the words we use.“To name something truly is to lay bare what may be brutal or corrupt—or important or possible. A key to the work of changing the world is changing the story, the names.” She prefers to use new descriptors when describing societal issues—“prison-industrial complex”, “affirmative consent”, or “unburnable carbon”. I particularly like the phrase “surveillance capitalism” when describing how internet companies use our social media to market our data.“To authoritarians, language is a weapon, usually deployed in the service of an emotional half-truth: something you believe to be true, even if it isn’t.”—Hannah Arendt in 1951.Solnit ends her book by seeking to inspire the reader to act; “Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, an understanding that the future is not yet written. It’s an informed, astute open-mindedness about what can happen and the role we might play in it. Hope looks forward but draws its energies from the past, from knowing histories, including our victories, and their complexities and imperfections.”Recommend.
    more
  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)
    January 1, 1970
    This new essay collection by Solnit is both a scathing indictment of the current US administration and the president himself. Solnit also looks at continued racial disparities and gentrification. She ends, however, on a note of encouragement - peaceful protest has a history of accomplishment and will be able to bring the US through this strange period in our history.
    more
  • Holly
    January 1, 1970
    In the past I haven't always connected with Rebecca Solnit's writing, although I've never figured out quite why (because I'm completely in line with her politically). But this collection of essays really spoke to me.* I guess I'm finally catching up.* All except the essay on anger ("Facing the Furies"), in which Solnit warns of anger's corrupting effects - taking a position a little different from Rebecca Traister's. I'm still feeling the positive influence of Traister's new book on why women sh In the past I haven't always connected with Rebecca Solnit's writing, although I've never figured out quite why (because I'm completely in line with her politically). But this collection of essays really spoke to me.* I guess I'm finally catching up.* All except the essay on anger ("Facing the Furies"), in which Solnit warns of anger's corrupting effects - taking a position a little different from Rebecca Traister's. I'm still feeling the positive influence of Traister's new book on why women should (sometimes) embrace their anger.
    more
  • A. H. Reaume
    January 1, 1970
    I would read ANYTHING Solnit writes, but this essay collection has helped me see the present political situation and potential activist interventions with more nuance and depth.
  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) by Rebecca Solnit is the newest collection of essays by the iconic writer. While the collection is more scattered than some of her others, Solnit is trying to get at the ways story-telling matters, and the way telling a story in one way or another way can have a big impact on what the facts appear to be, or on how successful a protest was. Solnit’s essay collections are always expertly written, and the essays in this are no exception. I Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) by Rebecca Solnit is the newest collection of essays by the iconic writer. While the collection is more scattered than some of her others, Solnit is trying to get at the ways story-telling matters, and the way telling a story in one way or another way can have a big impact on what the facts appear to be, or on how successful a protest was. Solnit’s essay collections are always expertly written, and the essays in this are no exception. I struggled somewhat to see the scope of the collection, what overall theme bound them together. Another complaint was a dismissal of the issue of white women who voted for Trump, which she seemed to see as not very significant, an outlook I found troubling. That said, most of the essays in this new collection are superb. Solnit argues for hope rather than optimism, making the case better here than she did in Hope in the Dark, arguing that hope is useful, that hope reminds us that while there is much work to do, the positive result will come, and reminds us too to celebrate the “small” victories or progress rather than being disappointed that the big thing wasn’t won. In this vein, she argues that movements like Standing Rock and Occupy Wall Street were more successful than people sometimes give them credit for, as our eyes should be on what changed in the way society now thinks and sees the issues rather than solely in concrete returns. One of her best is “Death by Gentrification,” an essay that parallels the gentrification of San Francisco with the rhetoric and circumstances surrounding the death of a man shot by police in the park he grew up in.I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises comes out September 4 from Haymarket Books.
    more
  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    The first half was excellent and the second was not as excellent. Solnit is at her best when she's contemplating misogyny (and here she has an excellent opening essay on Trump's coupling of misogyny and greed), but she sounds pretty cliche (to me) when she discusses systemic racism. Or she sounds more like an activist and reporter whereas the earlier essays, she sounds like a gifted writer, which she is.
    more
  • Kaleb Rogers
    January 1, 1970
    The most pervasive theme throughout Call Them By Their True Names is the unpredictability of the future, and how good acts today need not have direct, measurable benefits tomorrow. History is woven by innumerable factors, and fighting for what is right will undoubtedly make up some of them. There is injustice in the world, but it can be combatted with hope and perseverance.
    more
  • Nicole
    January 1, 1970
    I generally don't like to be "political" in reviews of books, but I find it unavoidable in this case. I'm giving this book a 2.5, because I nearly put it down after reading the second essay, "Milestones in Misogyny," which I found so insulting to those of us women who had the audacity not to blindly support Hillary Clinton purely because she was a woman. In this essay Solnit was clueless as to why many people, particularly millennials, were so enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders but not as much ab I generally don't like to be "political" in reviews of books, but I find it unavoidable in this case. I'm giving this book a 2.5, because I nearly put it down after reading the second essay, "Milestones in Misogyny," which I found so insulting to those of us women who had the audacity not to blindly support Hillary Clinton purely because she was a woman. In this essay Solnit was clueless as to why many people, particularly millennials, were so enthusiastic about Bernie Sanders but not as much about Clinton, similar to Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinem rebuking us by saying, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help each other," as if it was biologically required for us to support her without considering what a terrible candidate she was [full disclosure: I supported Sanders in the primary but voted for Clinton in the general because in my mind there was simply no other choice.] This colored my perception of the rest of the essays. It was only when I got to the third set of essays that I thought, "Okay, this is the Solnit that I remember from her last few books." There were a few essays that were very good (Blood on the Foundation, No Way In, No Way Out, The Monument Wars), but whenever she talked about being on the fringes/an outsider, I got very agitated, because it seemed like a total disconnect from her earlier blind defense of Clinton and everything she represents (the status quo, corporatism, etc). It was honestly difficult to take her words seriously by the end, since I was so put off by her lack of understanding of the progressive moment that Bernie Sanders helped start. If anyone would have been a likely supporter of his, it would have been her. They both visited Standing Rock; Clinton did not. They both despise the corruption that has pervaded our system, and the status quo; Clinton is the very epitome of all this. All of this was even more laughable when she lectured about how "objectivity" doesn't really exist, only being fair. To me it seems that many women of a certain age, including Solnit, could not be objective about Clinton's many flaws, and only wanted to see the first woman president in their lifetime. I'm disappointed that these essays were of such low quality compared to her other books, but perhaps it's a rare miss for her. Regardless, I think due to how angry I felt by her Hillary apologism I will be taking a break from reading her for a while.
    more
  • Jiny S
    January 1, 1970
    This is the perfect book for those young people who think “voting is not for me, and I’m too busy anyways.” I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes in the past, I was one of those people.Solnit’s essays give power to words. As a master of the discourse on persuasion, she shows her readers how political titans and people of influence in our society manipulate words to create illusions that suit their own narrative. Solent tells us that knowing problems for what they are is the first step in finding a sol This is the perfect book for those young people who think “voting is not for me, and I’m too busy anyways.” I’m ashamed to admit, sometimes in the past, I was one of those people.Solnit’s essays give power to words. As a master of the discourse on persuasion, she shows her readers how political titans and people of influence in our society manipulate words to create illusions that suit their own narrative. Solent tells us that knowing problems for what they are is the first step in finding a solution, because just like the way words have the power to create illusions, they have the power to break them as well.If you want to know the secret, here it is: the root of those politic nonsense that seem to have the strong and puzzling effect on the masses? it is their ability to arouse anger. Anger is easily provoked, but rarely examined. Given the choice, people want to be angry instead of sad. Anger calls for action, which can be a good thing under certain circumstances. Sadly, our society prizes anger and believes it to be the predecessor for change. The people who knows how to arouse anger in the masses have the power. Anger is the go-to emotion for politicians and influencers. It’s easy to produce, cheap to deliver, and people love to buy it. The truth is always more complicated. It’s harder to do the right thing. But anger, hate, and violence can never solve the problem.There are many societal issues covered in this book, discussions on the marginalization of groups of people based sex, race, and income. There is a strong sense of justice, and the outrage at the unfairness. Solnit is the voice for the people whose voices are not being heard. This is a book on the importance of participation, activism, and above all, the power of storytelling that shape the things around us and who we are.
    more
  • Sirri/Sivutiellä
    January 1, 1970
    Rebecca Solnitin esseekokoelma Call Them by Their True Names (2018) on puhutteleva teos. Se on kokoelma niille, jotka ovat feministejä; niille, jotka ovat huolissaan ilmastonmuutoksesta; niille, jotka ovat ahdistuneet äärioikeistolaisesta politiikasta; ja ennen kaikkea niille, jotka ymmärtävät sanojen ja tarinoiden arvon. Kieli, tarinat ja narratiivit ovat keskeisessä osassa Solnitin teosta, ja näihin kolmeen käsitteeseen Solnit palaa useassa esseessään. Varsinkin kokoelman alkupuolella teoksen Rebecca Solnitin esseekokoelma Call Them by Their True Names (2018) on puhutteleva teos. Se on kokoelma niille, jotka ovat feministejä; niille, jotka ovat huolissaan ilmastonmuutoksesta; niille, jotka ovat ahdistuneet äärioikeistolaisesta politiikasta; ja ennen kaikkea niille, jotka ymmärtävät sanojen ja tarinoiden arvon. Kieli, tarinat ja narratiivit ovat keskeisessä osassa Solnitin teosta, ja näihin kolmeen käsitteeseen Solnit palaa useassa esseessään. Varsinkin kokoelman alkupuolella teoksen teema on läsnä niin sisällössä kuin muodossa: yksi esseistä kertoo Trumpista ja tämän politiikan vaikutuksista mutta on kerrottu satumuodossa. Narratiivivalinnallaan Solnit painottaakin sitä, miten Trump liikkuu todesta epätodelliseen: kerrontaratkaisu heijastelee Trumpin kyvyttömyyttä uskoa toteen. Samalla kerrontamuoto kommentoi itse itseään ja asettuu metatekstiksi: narratiiveilla on merkitystä, ja ihmiset tekevät jatkuvasti valintoja sen suhteen, miten ja millä tekniikalla he tarinoita kertovat. Lisää blogissani.
    more
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    One of her best essay collections for sure. The "American Crises" of the title refer to a wide range of topics - Trump, domestic abuse, Occupy Wall Street and gentrification among others. Incisive writing as always with Solnit, and a pleasant surprise after the disappoint that was The Mother of All Questions.
    more
  • Kaia
    January 1, 1970
    Like any collection of essays/short stories/poems, there are strengths and weaknesses throughout the book. This collection address a wide variety of current issues, particularly through the lenses of the power of naming and language and storytelling. Solnit also expands on ideas about change and progress and the value of activism that can also be found in Hope in the Dark (and possibly all of her work--I've only read these two!). In particular, I thought Preaching to the Choir, Death by Gentrifi Like any collection of essays/short stories/poems, there are strengths and weaknesses throughout the book. This collection address a wide variety of current issues, particularly through the lenses of the power of naming and language and storytelling. Solnit also expands on ideas about change and progress and the value of activism that can also be found in Hope in the Dark (and possibly all of her work--I've only read these two!). In particular, I thought Preaching to the Choir, Death by Gentrification: The Killing of Alex Nieto and the Savaging of San Francisco, and In Praise of Indirect Consequences were particularly well done and powerful, and I read The Loneliness of Donald Trump twice just because it felt cathartic."Michel Foucault noted, 'People know what they do; frequently they know why they do what they do; but what they don't know is what what they do does.' You do what you can. What you've done may do more than you can imagine for generations to come. You plant a seed and a tree grows from it; will there be fruit, shade, habitat for birds, more seeds, a forest, wood to build a cradle or a house? You don't know. A tree can live much longer than you. So will an idea, and sometimes the changes that result from accepting that new idea about what is true, or right, just might remake the world. You do what you can do; you do your best; what what you do does is not up to you."
    more
  • Samantha
    January 1, 1970
    This is pretty standard Solnit fare, so if you enjoy her writing, you'll dig this short collection on a wide range of topics that honestly doesn't feel so wide - police violence, incarceration, homelessness, immigration, climate change. She writes about these issues through the lens of the language we use around them vs. the language we perhaps should use. Language used intentionally to subvert the truth, whether overtly or not (I think often of how many news outlets used "Brock Turner, the star This is pretty standard Solnit fare, so if you enjoy her writing, you'll dig this short collection on a wide range of topics that honestly doesn't feel so wide - police violence, incarceration, homelessness, immigration, climate change. She writes about these issues through the lens of the language we use around them vs. the language we perhaps should use. Language used intentionally to subvert the truth, whether overtly or not (I think often of how many news outlets used "Brock Turner, the star swimmer" instead of "Brock Turner, the rapist").To that end, I love how she writes about Madame President, Hillary Clinton. I think it's fair to do more than suggest that sexism played a role in our country electing an unintelligent misogynistic rapist over a woman who was more qualified than any candidate in our history; the problem is, it's hard to speak passionately about HRC without preceding it with, "She's not perfect, but..." Solnit is unafraid to call out that sexism and in doing so, cuts through the mental and analytical gymnastics we do to avoid confronting the notion that many don't like HRC because she's a woman. It's haaaaaard to face the way we treat people who are poor or undocumented or in prison or not cis-het white men, because it means confronting a bigotry in us we prefer to pretend doesn't exist. These essays collectively stress the importance of calling things what they are, in the interest of attempting to better conflict and hatred and quality of life for all.
    more
  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    Spot on.
  • Vivek Tejuja
    January 1, 1970
    I think I would read Solnit even if she would write in a greeting card. She is that powerful as a writer, and I am sure a great human being. Rebecca Solnit has written on a varied number of topics - from the history of walking, to space and how to maintain it, to bow to get lost, to how men explain things to women - she has touched every single surface when it comes to writing (more or less), and this time this collection of essays is her masterstroke. These essays are telling of our times and i I think I would read Solnit even if she would write in a greeting card. She is that powerful as a writer, and I am sure a great human being. Rebecca Solnit has written on a varied number of topics - from the history of walking, to space and how to maintain it, to bow to get lost, to how men explain things to women - she has touched every single surface when it comes to writing (more or less), and this time this collection of essays is her masterstroke. These essays are telling of our times and it is scary to observe the world we live in. Solnit speaks of the election of Donald Trump and makes no bones about her disagreement. Her essays more than being timely or savage are honest and backed with facts. The insights are spot-on and attempt to diagnose what ails the American culture. Right from the MeToo movement to the incarceration of African-American men, to the misleading speech of President Trump, Solnit emerges as one of the most powerful cultural critics that the world of literature possesses. Solnit's writing is powerful, stark and a representation of the times we live in. This collection of essays ends with the injustice Americans (mostly) face every single day - from the cynicism, to police shootings, the gentrification, and the crises that ultimately define America today. As she so eloquently puts it, "“Being careful and precise about language is one way to oppose the disintegration of meaning, to encourage the beloved community and the conversations that inculcate hope and vision. Calling things by their true names is the work I have tried to do in the essays here.” The primary ideas behind the book are the naming and precision of language which somehow also tends to fall short somewhere, more so in alignment with what Solnit is trying to talk about. Sure it is from a very personal space and she acknowledges that. My favourite essays were: "Twenty Million Missing Storytellers", which is on voter suppression, "Milestones in Misogyny" about the 2016 presidential election is sympathetic to Clinton and I thought was written with a lot of force. "Call Them By Their True Names" is a powerful read, the one that makes you question, stand up, take notice and see what is going on with America and therefore with the rest of the world. The one that deserves to be read right now! 
    more
  • Dave
    January 1, 1970
    I have such trouble with any discussions of current events, because current events usually mean Trump, and reading about Trump makes me depressed and horrified. But this brilliant book starts with Trump and misogyny, and just when you want to burn this motherfucker to the ground, it reaches for hope, and positivity, and patience, and small victories, and making the world better. Not all of the essays are perfect, but the book as a whole reminds me strongly and inspiringly that this motherfucker I have such trouble with any discussions of current events, because current events usually mean Trump, and reading about Trump makes me depressed and horrified. But this brilliant book starts with Trump and misogyny, and just when you want to burn this motherfucker to the ground, it reaches for hope, and positivity, and patience, and small victories, and making the world better. Not all of the essays are perfect, but the book as a whole reminds me strongly and inspiringly that this motherfucker too shall pass. "Ideas are contagious, emotions are contagious, hope is contagious, courage is contagious." Work to make it work.
    more
  • Nick Klagge
    January 1, 1970
    I love Rebecca Solnit and would happily read anything she writes. I try to keep up regularly with what she writes on LitHub, with the result that I had already read a couple of the essays in this new collection ("The Loneliness of Donald Trump" and "Eight Million Ways to Belong"), although oddly I didn't see anywhere where previous publication was noted for specific essays. But happily, nearly all of the content was still new to me.All of the classic Solnit elements are here--the combination of I love Rebecca Solnit and would happily read anything she writes. I try to keep up regularly with what she writes on LitHub, with the result that I had already read a couple of the essays in this new collection ("The Loneliness of Donald Trump" and "Eight Million Ways to Belong"), although oddly I didn't see anywhere where previous publication was noted for specific essays. But happily, nearly all of the content was still new to me.All of the classic Solnit elements are here--the combination of relevance to current events and timelessness, the willingness to speak truth to power, the deep humanism and ardent feminism. My favorite essays in this collection were: "Twenty Million Missing Storytellers" (zooming out for a broader perspective on the #MeToo movement); "Preaching to the Choir" (on the value of motivating and deepening connections with allies as opposed to converting enemies or undecideds); "Death by Gentrification: The Killing of Alex Nieto and the Savaging of San Francisco" (a troubling and compelling entry in the conversation on gentrification), and "In Praise of Indirect Consequences" (looking at the subtle but real impacts of seemingly failed social movements).
    more
  • Brittany
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit’s best essay collection yet!
  • Kazen
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit, perhaps best known for Men Explain Things to Me, is back with another essay collection. While her past two books centered on feminism this one is about social justice of all sorts, touching on climate change, police brutality, gentrification, wrongful imprisonment, and more.The essays were largely written between 2016 and 2018. The most powerful theme is the idea that names and language truly matter. If you cannot name a problem you cannot begin to solve it. A couple of the essays take a Solnit, perhaps best known for Men Explain Things to Me, is back with another essay collection. While her past two books centered on feminism this one is about social justice of all sorts, touching on climate change, police brutality, gentrification, wrongful imprisonment, and more.The essays were largely written between 2016 and 2018. The most powerful theme is the idea that names and language truly matter. If you cannot name a problem you cannot begin to solve it. A couple of the essays take a phrase - like "preach to the choir" or "break a news story" - and examine it from various angles. If preaching to the choir is useless, does that mean we have to try and convert those utterly opposed to our views? Other essays hew closely to reportage, covering the killing of Alex Nieto in San Francisco and the failings of the legal system in the case of Jarvis Masters.The writing is good but I had fewer "wow" moments than usual. Solnit is great at stretching your brain and making you look at things from a different perspective but there wasn't as much of it compared with her earlier essays. Perhaps if this were my first Solnit, or if I were less versed with the issues, I would have felt differently.In sum it's a solid collection, as you would expect from such a good writer, but not my favorite nor her best.Thanks to Haymarket Books and Edelweiss for providing a review copy.
    more
  • Vipassana
    January 1, 1970
    In Call Them by Their True Names, Rebecca Solnit tells contemplative stories behind the news that is churned out at break neck speed. The four sections of the book explore Electoral Catastrophes, American Emotions, American Edges (gentrification, climatechange, homelessness, etc.), and Possibilities. In these essays, she encourages one to think about the impact the events of the last few years have had on the private self as well as the community. She encourages healthy anger, but also slowing d In Call Them by Their True Names, Rebecca Solnit tells contemplative stories behind the news that is churned out at break neck speed. The four sections of the book explore Electoral Catastrophes, American Emotions, American Edges (gentrification, climatechange, homelessness, etc.), and Possibilities. In these essays, she encourages one to think about the impact the events of the last few years have had on the private self as well as the community. She encourages healthy anger, but also slowing down and taking a break from the things that can only hurt us.. My favourite essays were Death by Gentrification, Preaching to the Choir, Milestones in Misogyny, Twnety Million Storytellers, and Break the Story. The essay Eight Million Ways to Belong was awful. This is possibly the first and only time I've loathed Solnit's writing however I'm fairly biased against the style. It's written as a letter to Donald trump urging him the truly visit the entirely of New York. It felt out of place with her usual reflective style. Yet, I'd still strongly recommend this collection.
    more
  • Megan O'Hara
    January 1, 1970
    i don't know!!! i think Rebecca Solnit is a really talented writer, this just mostly fell flat for me. wasn't as historical or analytical as i anticipated so i was disappointed. some of the essays are good but overall i think it's a mediocre collection.
    more
  • Callum McAllister
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit always knows how it is
  • Tonstant Weader
    January 1, 1970
    Call Them by Their True Names is a recent collection of post-2016 essays by Rebecca Solnit. Solnit is one of those people who can distill complex events to their essentials and make sense of them. There are eighteen essays organized into four groups. Electoral Catastrophes, the first section, concentrates on the misogyny of Trump’s victory. These speak to me most forcefully because for me, as for many women, November 8, 2016, is the day our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons made clear the co Call Them by Their True Names is a recent collection of post-2016 essays by Rebecca Solnit. Solnit is one of those people who can distill complex events to their essentials and make sense of them. There are eighteen essays organized into four groups. Electoral Catastrophes, the first section, concentrates on the misogyny of Trump’s victory. These speak to me most forcefully because for me, as for many women, November 8, 2016, is the day our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sons made clear the contempt they hold their daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. To grind that into our souls, they overwhelmingly supported a man who openly despises, mocks, abuses, and assaults women. It will forever be The Great Betrayal and Solnit’s essays speak to that anger and rage and the way women are erased, not just from value, but from understanding the election with all the false narratives designed to obscure the fundamental fact that by large majorities American men cannot accept women as equals.In the second section, American Emotions, Solnit has four essays addressing the bankruptcy of our obsession with individualism and our cynical rush to judge civil activism as a failure by looking only at the short-term. I appreciated the essay tackling the temptation of violence on the left and tackling head-on the phony criticism of “preaching to the choir.” I remember someone saying that once and the great response, “if they choir isn’t voting, keep preaching.”The third section, American Edges, has eight essays on topics from climate change to gentrification to Civil War monuments to Standing Rock. What they have in common is the violence done to people by those in power, whether it’s Kit Carson killing Califonios to our government killing innocent men on Death Row or neglect killing the homeless and racism killing refugees. Violence seems omnipresent in how our government interacts with people, implicitly or explicitly.The fourth section, Possibilities, has only three essays. One about her hope that the media will start getting it right, to start reporting on climate change, to start reporting stories not click bait. The other two are about how activism has profound effects and then the surprising consequence of Trump’s election – the waking up of American resistance far more broadly than before.I follow Solnit on Facebook where she sometimes posts a link to her articles. I actively look for her writing, so many of the essays were ones I had already come across, but several were fresh. It is also useful to read essays again within the context of the stories she groups them with.I think Solnit is one of our more practical and accessible public intellectuals. Accessible is sometimes thrown around as an insult, as though writing with clarity is easy. It’s not. What’s easy is using professional jargon and inaccessible language to put gates on your ideas so they are safe from broad public scrutiny. Solnit never does that. She writes so her ideas are understood and not just by the like-minded reader.Solnit writes with courage and is not afraid to criticize those who expect to be treated as allies. For example, in Facing the Furies she writes about nonviolence and the use of violence. While she does not mention Black Bloc or Antifa, she writes about those who justify petty violence and suggest criticism of their tactics is infringing on their freedom of expression. “Justified thus, violence becomes a form of personal expression, part of bourgeois individualism rather than global revolutionary strategy. One is really fighting against one’s own repression rather than that of others, and devil take the consequences. This is an argument that has nothing to do with strategy or winning.” In another example, she takes on those who argue on behalf of those who are pushing the Democrats to accommodate the White Working Class voter who left us years ago. “You think you’re recruiting; really, you’re losing your religion.” I want to steal that line and use it forever.I think Solnit is a careful thinker and writer. She recognizes the danger and appeal of anger. She knows the media responds to conservative anger with credulity and liberal evidence with skepticism. It’s easier to nitpick facts than argue with anger. She is aware of racism’s pull on our country and on us as individuals, how much our country relies on racist impulses and beliefs to justify injustice. She tackles the issues of racism and sexism without fear, calling out the biases and bigotries on the left as well as the rightEven if you don’t read many nonfiction books on politics and current events, read this. The essays are short, incisive, and to the point. The writing is clear and active. This is writing to do more than persuade, but to inspire.I received an e-galley of Call Them by Their True Names from the publisher through EdelweissCall Them by Their True Names at Haymarket BooksRebecca Solnit author site★★★★https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpre...
    more
  • Lili
    January 1, 1970
    This book of essays touches on so many issues currently plaguing our country and the culture we’ve cultivated in recent years of booming tech companies “disrupting” local communities and welfare, disregarding inexplicable offenses conducted by the leader of our free nation, gun violence, voter suppression, and so much more with a layer of naive cynicism that coats the country like an oily blanket that weighs on every social justice action. The author holds the culprit of each essay accountable, This book of essays touches on so many issues currently plaguing our country and the culture we’ve cultivated in recent years of booming tech companies “disrupting” local communities and welfare, disregarding inexplicable offenses conducted by the leader of our free nation, gun violence, voter suppression, and so much more with a layer of naive cynicism that coats the country like an oily blanket that weighs on every social justice action. The author holds the culprit of each essay accountable, whether it’s our own inaction, our systemic racism, our inability to see the value of preaching to the choir rather than our adversaries, our inherent anger and propensity to only see and denounce the actions of others in black or white narratives.The issues discussed call to the humanity in the reader to further understand what is plaguing our country and open our eyes to what’s right in front of us. If you know that this country produces more food and waste, why are there millions of Americans going hungry? When did we start growing accustomed to seeing the homeless panhandle for money? When did we give up on the idea that we could help others? Our privilege has always been around, comforting us in our homes, our safe spaces that we call our own. Our privilege has erected a barrier so tall, slowly growing taller as the rich get richer and we’re distracted by the next big celebrity scandal, that we’ve become blind to the injustices we encounter and are done unto us on a daily basis.While I agreed with so much of the author’s points of reflection and truth, I was also made to feel uncomfortable which is what really made the book shine. Seeking the uncomfortable is nobody’s forte but it is what makes us grow, live fuller lives, and understand our own decisions, motivations and emotions. It’s hard to read something, do something, experience something that makes you inherently want to pull away and retreat. I loved this book for making arguments I agree with and question and call out what I neglected to see.I would recommend this book to everyone though I know it’s not going to be for everyone. Step out of that bubble of yours and read reality. Take a chance and confront your complacency. I’m not saying this book can do all that but I’m also not saying it can’t.Written and curated brilliantly, Solnit’s exposition of what America currently looks like will call to every American’s sense of fight for a better future, inclusive culture and social action.
    more
  • Kerfe
    January 1, 1970
    "Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, and understanding that the future is not yet written."Every high school student in America should be required to read Solnit's essays in order to have some kind of idea about the importance of civic engagement--how to be a citizen and how change is actually made (slowly and imperfectly, states that many people these days seem to have no idea how to handle). We have become a people of absolutes--in a world seen as black or white, everyone loses.Soni "Hope is a belief that what we do might matter, and understanding that the future is not yet written."Every high school student in America should be required to read Solnit's essays in order to have some kind of idea about the importance of civic engagement--how to be a citizen and how change is actually made (slowly and imperfectly, states that many people these days seem to have no idea how to handle). We have become a people of absolutes--in a world seen as black or white, everyone loses.Sonit is both impassioned and clear--the only people who can rescue the Earth and create a peaceful and equitable society is us--all of us. We don't have to agree on everything, but we must work together in order to be headed in the right direction.
    more
  • Karin
    January 1, 1970
    Such a fantastic collection--probably my favorite by her yet (though Hope in the Dark is also fantastic). She has a way of calling out the problems our society has, while still encouraging action. You learn from her but you don't get so mired in the failings of everything that you end up hopeless. I found in this collection she was able to weave topics like feminism, racism, climate change, wealth inequity seamlessly together.
    more
  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    “I’m not convinced we are winning, but I am glad we are at last fighting.”
  • Kevin
    January 1, 1970
    Ms Solnit is brilliant, as always, but she isn't always edited well by her publisher who, in her 4th essay collection for Hey Day books has once again, put her work in kind of a jumbled nonsense of a pile. If you can stand that these essays seem thrown about like yesterday's laundry, you'll be fine. On their own, they are magical, particularly "Preaching to the Choir"
    more
Write a review