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 4th, 2018
PublisherHaymarket Books
ISBN-139781608469468
Rating
GenreWriting, Essays, Nonfiction, 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.
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  • 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."
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  • 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.
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  • Leah Rachel
    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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • Autumn
    January 1, 1970
    Spot on.
  • Callum McAllister
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit always knows how it is
  • 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.
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  • Alyssa Foll
    January 1, 1970
    Another compelling essay collection from Rebecca Solnit. This book is similar in tone and content to "Hope in the Dark" -- she writes a great deal on politics, history, and the possibility of change. She also includes a few essays on the #MeToo movement and the 2016 presidential election. I'll read anything by Rebecca Solnit and this book was another outstanding reason why she has earned that status!
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  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    This was an amazing book and I wanted to have so many quotes from it made into posters and put up absolutely everywhere. Political books that make you feel hopeful without lying to you about how bad things are are very special. My one problem was the use of ‘gay, lesbian and transgender’ which grated on my bisexual ears as my sexuality is disregarded by almost every. That was a small aspect but I do hope more books get it right in future. It didn’t prevent me from adoring the book and I’ll be re This was an amazing book and I wanted to have so many quotes from it made into posters and put up absolutely everywhere. Political books that make you feel hopeful without lying to you about how bad things are are very special. My one problem was the use of ‘gay, lesbian and transgender’ which grated on my bisexual ears as my sexuality is disregarded by almost every. That was a small aspect but I do hope more books get it right in future. It didn’t prevent me from adoring the book and I’ll be recommending it to everyone I know immediately.
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  • Kelly
    January 1, 1970
    Rebecca Solnit is so eloquent and intelligent and inspiring. Not sure why I am just discovering her, but happy that I can add her to my list of favorites.
  • 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.
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  • Ricardo
    January 1, 1970
    I am always in awe when reading Solnit’s work. The collection that Solnit has put together here focuses on various topics such as 45 and his administration, the murder of Alex Nieto by police in San Francisco, climate change, and other American disasters. Yet, even though Solnit writes of all these horrific situations that have happened or are happening currently, she is able to still inspire hope. Solnit mentions how she has been writing about hope for that past 15 years in the final essay “In I am always in awe when reading Solnit’s work. The collection that Solnit has put together here focuses on various topics such as 45 and his administration, the murder of Alex Nieto by police in San Francisco, climate change, and other American disasters. Yet, even though Solnit writes of all these horrific situations that have happened or are happening currently, she is able to still inspire hope. Solnit mentions how she has been writing about hope for that past 15 years in the final essay “In Praise of Indirect Consequences”. Solnit says, “I still use the term because it navigates a way forward between the false certainties of optimism and of pessimism, and the complacency or passivity that goes with both…Hope for me has meant a sense that the future is unpredictable, and that we don’t actually know what will happen, but know we may be able to write it ourselves.” Hope is just as necessary now as it has been in the past, and I think Solnit articulates that well in this collection.
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  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    Rebecca Solnit is a peerless essayist, and her essays on anger and cynicism in particular felt very needed (by me). She's been an activist since the eighties and her perspective and hard won hope are so encouraging and heartening. This collection spans from 2014-2018. Her compassion, intelligence, and beautifully articulate reason are both balms to my soul and inspirations. I've been thinking critically about who I want my role models to be, who I want to emulate, and this collection of essays h Rebecca Solnit is a peerless essayist, and her essays on anger and cynicism in particular felt very needed (by me). She's been an activist since the eighties and her perspective and hard won hope are so encouraging and heartening. This collection spans from 2014-2018. Her compassion, intelligence, and beautifully articulate reason are both balms to my soul and inspirations. I've been thinking critically about who I want my role models to be, who I want to emulate, and this collection of essays has given me a brilliant woman to model myself after. Highly recommend this to everyone interested in social and economic justice, especially those of us struggling with hopelessness and despair. There's true love in this book.
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  • Sally
    January 1, 1970
    Includes a prophetic coda dated July 16, 2018 in which she predicts that Trump's meeting with Putin is the beginning of the end. "Something changed that day, a shift that was as huge and tangible as it was incalculable. Or perhaps it would be calculable when the histories of the next few years were written, but on that day they could hardly be imagined."Consistent with Hope in the Dark, Solnit has the rare ability to make you understand how perilous our political situation is while at the same t Includes a prophetic coda dated July 16, 2018 in which she predicts that Trump's meeting with Putin is the beginning of the end. "Something changed that day, a shift that was as huge and tangible as it was incalculable. Or perhaps it would be calculable when the histories of the next few years were written, but on that day they could hardly be imagined."Consistent with Hope in the Dark, Solnit has the rare ability to make you understand how perilous our political situation is while at the same time cheering us all on. Part of her method is to emphasize that we actually can't predict the future--just as in the past where, the "inevitable" future was never inevitable. There is always room for change, fueled by hope.
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  • Margaret Myers
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit is a modern classic, and that’s okay—her writing is clear and fine, her concepts solid but not really groundbreaking. I don’t know how any of us will feel about her in 10 or 20 or 30 years. In reading such a collection, I can’t help but feel as if she’s drawing from the same pile of evidence over and over again (blm, occupy, trump), which is completely understandable and solid journalism for magazines, etc. but makes reading the collection feel at times belabored.
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  • Ang
    January 1, 1970
    Solnit's short essay collections are always on point, and this is no exception. I said after I began this, only four pages in, that I was ready to put my head down on my desk and sob with the relief of being seen, and I felt that throughout the whole book. Someone is saying the things that need to be said. Someone is writing them down. Thanks to the publisher and to Edelweiss for the digital ARC!
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  • Elaine
    January 1, 1970
    A collection of incredibly timely and perceptive essays -- some better than others, some excellent, especially the one about Alex Nieto and the fatal consequences of gentrification. This is a review I wrote for the Chronicle:https://datebook.sfchronicle.com/book...
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  • Steve Nolan
    January 1, 1970
    The essay on Alex Nieto was just as compelling and infuriating and incredible as when I first read it. (I didn't realize this was the same author, until the first couple lines started reminding me of it very strongly.)The letter addressed to Trump was hokey and the early Hillary part felt a bit too soft-gloved for me, but I still got the point.
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  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    I devoured this book...as I've done with her books in the past. These series of essays were spot on. I explained to my friend that I need to be careful when I read her because I get whiplash from nodding my head so strongly. She's super smart, witty and honestly, someone you should all put on your "must read" list. She makes you think.
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  • Michael
    January 1, 1970
    Call Them By Their True Names kicked my ass. Rebecca Solnit simply knows just what words to use (or what sources to cite) and always makes pretty good sense. This was my first from her, and I very much look forward to more.
  • Vasja Volin
    January 1, 1970
    I didn't love the first book I read of Solnit's, but as I read more, in particular works she has written more recently, I enjoy them more and more. This one is a solid entry, and a poignant reminder that even our small progressive contributions can have lasting effects, even if we don't see them.
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  • Mark
    January 1, 1970
    Audiobook
  • Case Maharg
    January 1, 1970
    Loved it. I alway learn so much from her essays and plan to return to them again to refresh myself. Rebecca Solnit is a treasure. If I could recommend one author, it would be her
  • Emma Bridges
    January 1, 1970
    "San Francisco, once a utopia in the eyes of many, had become the nerve center of a new dystopia."Essential.
  • Megan
    January 1, 1970
    Rebecca Solnit’s writing is incisive and invaluable.
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    My pick for The Voice of Our Time. When a story breaks, I always check Solnit’s take on it first. A voracious consumer of every word she writes.
  • Emily
    January 1, 1970
    Resistance. Organizing for Change. Trump Administration. *was given an ARC by the publisher at BookExpo.
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