Black Klansman: A Memoir by Ron Stallworth

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The Stacks received this book for free as part of a giveaway from the publisher. See Disclosures.

This book has been on my radar for a while, but with the BlacKkKlansman movie coming out I decided I had to read the book. The book is very short, so it wasn’t intimidating at all. If you don’t know the story of Ron Stallworth, the Black Klansman here is a blurb to catch you up:

When detective Ron Stallworth, the first black detective in the history of the Colorado Springs Police Department, comes across a classified ad in the local paper asking for all those interested in joining the Ku Klux Klan to contact a P.O. box, Detective Stallworth does his job and responds with interest, using his real name while posing as a white man. He figures he’ll receive a few brochures in the mail, maybe even a magazine, and learn more about a growing terrorist threat in his community.

A few weeks later the office phone rings, and the caller asks Ron a question he thought he’d never have to answer, “Would you like to join our cause?” Ron answers the caller’s question that night with a yes, launching what is surely one of the most audacious, and incredible undercover investigations in history. Ron recruits his partner Chuck to play the “white” Ron Stallworth, while Stallworth himself conducts all subsequent phone conversations. During the months-long investigation, Stallworth sabotages cross burnings, exposes white supremacists in the military, and even befriends David Duke himself.

I found this book a little boring. Which was shocking to me, because the idea of a Black man in the Ku Klux Klan seems explosive and exciting, and it is a pretty crazy story. However there really isn’t a plot. The title pretty much explains the story, a Black man infiltrates the Klan. There are details that come out, of exactly how, but once I got that information, I was ready for the book to end.

One of the things that really irritated me about this book, is that Stallworth seemed to feel like he had an obligation to be fair to the KKK. He would talk about something heinous they would say, and then remind us that David Duke is also a great father and husband. Or, he would talk about how dangerous groups who were protesting the Klan were. As if he, the man being called a “nigger” had to defend the humanity of members of the KKK. I think it took away from the vulnerability and authenticity of his story. I would have much preferred to hear how he felt, and not diplomatic responses.

Another thing that comes up a lot in Black Klansman is the idea that the members of the Ku Klux Klan as so dumb for being duped by a Black person. I think this is also a dangerous game, it allows those folks in the KKK to be dismissed as idiots, and not as clever spin artists who can manipulate public opinion about entire groups of people, and get elected to public office. The idea that those who spew hate are unintelligent is dangerous and lets that hatred off the hook.

There were moments that were interesting in this books. Particular details of how Stallworth pulled off his infiltration. I also loved that he had so much detail from the investigation, direct quotes and dates and more. It really lent credibility to the story.

This book is fine, but it is nothing special. The writing didn’t work for me, and I didn’t feel like I learned much about Stallworth, or the Klan, or even the time period in Colorado. I would say, if you were really curious about the story, you could read this one, but if you’re just medium on the idea I wouldn’t read it. Either way, the book is short, which is usually a good thing.

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books (June 5, 2018)
  • 2/5 stars
  • Buy Black Klansman on Amazon

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

 

Ep. 19 Extraordinary Reading with Jay Connor of The Extraordinary Negroes

cropped-TheStacks_logo_final.jpgThis week our guest is Jay Connor. Jay is a writer, and the creator and co-host of The Extraordinary Negroes podcast. Jay discuss his winding life path through many cities and many careers. We also talk about what books Jay is into and what writers he admires.

We cover a lot of topics this week, and its all in the show notes below. Use the links below when you shop on Amazon and iTunes to help support The Stacks.

BOOKS

EVERYTHING ELSE

Connect with Jay: Instagram|Twitter

Connect with The Extraordinary Negroes: iTunes Podcast|Android Podcast|Website|Facebook|Instagram|Twitter

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads|Traci’s Instagram|iTunes|The Stacks Website|Patreon

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of this show. If you prefer to do a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

Thank you to this week’s sponsor Audible. To get your FREE audiobook download and FREE 30 day trial go to audibletrial.com/thestacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

The Stacks Book Club September Books

51A119E3-B576-4C05-8FB4-5B0A3767316AIts time to announce our September book club books. We have two acclaimed novels in September and we could not be more excited.

We will discuss our first book of the month, Motherhood by Sheila Heti on September 12th. Motherhood is a novel that examines what is gained and what is lost when a woman becomes a mother.

On September 26th, we will be discussing this year’s Pulitzer Prize winning work of fiction, Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Less is about a struggling novelist who decides to travel the world instead of subject himself to the awkwardness of attending his ex’s wedding.

Here is how The Stacks Book Club works, you read the books and we talk about them on the podcast. If you ever have questions you want answered, send them our way, and we’ll do out best to include them in our discussions. You can email us at thestackswithtraci@gmail.com, comment on this post, or reach out to us through our Instagram @thestackspod.

Order your copies of our September books on Amazon:

If you want to have input on future books we discuss on this show, become a member of The Stacks Pack by clicking here.

The Stacks received both of these book for free from the publishers. For more information on our commitment to honesty and transparency click here.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

36922D01-B023-4B1F-AC4E-F05F66D934D3I picked up this book because I wanted a pep talk. I felt like I needed to hear how awesome I am. So, I said, why not listen to Jen Sincero tell me.

Here is more about You are a Badass if you’re not familiar with this book.

In this refreshingly entertaining how-to guide, bestselling author and world-traveling success coach, Jen Sincero, serves up 27 bitesized chapters full of hilariously inspiring stories, sage advice, easy exercises, and the occasional swear word, helping you to: Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors that stop you from getting what you want, Create a life you totally love. And create it NOW, Make some damn money already. The kind you’ve never made before.

By the end of You Are a Badass, you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, how to change what you don’t love, and how to use The Force to kick some serious ass.

I listened to You are a Badass via audiobook, Sincero narrates, and I like her voice. It is straightforward and unpretentious. Her reading fits the tone of the book. This is a total self-help book, titled and marketed as straightforward and unpretentious, but don’t let that confuse you, it is completely and totally full of all the self-helpy things you find in self-help books. If you’re into that genre, you’ll probably enjoy this book. If you don’t, you might not like it so much.

The structure of the book makes the book move quickly. Most chapters are short and consist of an idea, some examples, and then a list that helps the reader to strategize how they can implement that idea in their life. Again, it is straight forward and unpretentious.

I thought the book was fine. It hit all its marks, and provided some insights, it didn’t offend it didn’t excited. As I listened, I found myself zoning out, and then not caring enough to go back and hear what I missed. There were some parts that resonated with me. The section on time, and utilizing one’s time spoke to me most. When it came to time Sincero had a different and specific approach that I appreciated. I also liked the way she talked about forgiveness and money, and also how she talked about the people we find most irritating in our lives. She verbalized things I’ve thought of and heard before, but in a new way.

On the other hand, the book is full of tropes and ideas you’ve heard a hundred times before about, loving yourself, taking a risk, behaving the way you want to be perceived etc. I don’t fault Sincero for including this stuff in her book, my guess that it works, thats why you hear the advice so much. However, these suggestions felt redundant and were the moments I most found myself zoning out.

If you’re going through a major life change, or feeling like you need a boost, this book might speak to you. This is one of those books that could mean a lot to you depending on when you read it in your own journey. You might hate it today, and in ten years think its the best thing ever. It didn’t do much for me, at least not right now.

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

I had a great time with Ashley North as we discussed Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes for The Stacks Book Club. You can listen to that full episode here. The book is an exploration of what happens when you start changing your habits through positivity and affirmation.

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Get your own Ashley North Candle at www.shopanstyle.com

If you don’t know about this book here is more information on the premise.

She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today. Her iconic characters live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she suffered panic attacks before media interviews?

With three children at home and three hit television shows, it was easy for Shonda to say she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. And then, over Thanksgiving dinner, her sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything. Shonda knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her. The book chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.

This book is written like it is straight out of the mouth of one of Shonda’s characters from her TV shows. It moves between short quick sentences to longer rolling monologues with tons of repetition of phrases, its very Scandal. It is conversational and performative. It feels like Rhimes is acutely aware of her audience and isn’t fully comfortable with us being let in. This approach to writing sometimes got in my way of enjoying the book, and trusting that it wasn’t all an act. I felt like I was consciously being entertained, which I rarely feel in memoirs (unless it is a comedian’s memoir).

The first part of the book was slow for me, it took a while for Rhimes to get into the actual “year of yes”, and getting used to the style of writing also slowed me down. However, once she gets into her story, the book picks up pretty quickly. The middle of this book is really great. Her struggles with anxiety, and guilt of being a mother who works, and her commitment to getting fit were all thrilling to read about. The topics felt universal and also uniquely Shonda. Its a hard balancing act to get people to relate to the most powerful woman in TV, and she pulls it off.

This book felt like a practical application of an earlier The Stacks Book Club pick, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. The Power of Habit uses scientific studies and examples from society to explain how habits work and how we can change them. It was a pop-psychology approach to changing behavior in businesses and individuals. Year of Yes was one woman’s account of how she changed the way she approached the world. I found myself noticing keystone habits and other ideas that came up in Duhigg’s book, which made me enjoyYear of Yes in a whole new way.

The ending of Year of Yes fell a little short for me. She loaded the earlier sections of the book with the most powerful transformations, and the ones that came toward the end felt less meaningful and crucial to the story. Just as the book started off a little slow, it also fizzled for me toward the end.

I have to admit, I was inspired to start my own year of yes, after reading about Rhimes’ journey. I think there is a lot to be learned from her experiences. Her perspectives are thoughtful and she does a superb job of extrapolating her lessons and stating them clearly for her reader. That is no easy task, especially when one is reflecting on their own struggles and successes. I think anyone could benefit from this book, while the style of the writing may not be for you, the content of the book is worth thinking about.

Don’t forget to listen the The Stacks with Ashley North discussing Year of Yes.

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (September 13, 2016)
  • 3/5 stars
  • Buy Year of Yes on Amazon

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page (https://www.patreon.com/thestacks). We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of The Stacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.

 

Ep. 18 Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes — The Stacks Book Club (Ashley North)

cropped-TheStacks_logo_final.jpgStylist and CEO Ashley North is back this week for The Stacks Book Club and our discussion of Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. The book is Rhimes’ memoir on the year she decided to say yes to everything and use the power of yes to change her life. The book brings up topics surrounding the desire to be professionally successful and personally fulfilled. We talk about motherhood as a “job”, the myth of doing it all, and if we would ever do our own Year of Yes.

We talk in detail about the book, but this book doesn’t really have spoilers. However, if you’re wanting to go on Shonda’s journey along with her, you should wait to listen until you’ve read the book.

Here are all the things we talked about this week

Connect with Ashley: Instagram|Ashley North Style|Shop AN Style

Connect with The Stacks: Instagram|Facebook|Twitter|Goodreads|Traci’s Instagram|iTunes|The Stacks Website|Patreon

To contribute to The Stacks, join The Stacks Pack, and get exclusive perks, check out our Patreon page. We are beyond grateful for anything you’re able to give to support the production of this show. If you prefer to do a one time contribution go to paypal.me/thestackspod.

Thank you to this week’s sponsor Audible. To get your FREE audiobook download and FREE 30 day trial go to audibletrial.com/thestacks.

The Stacks participates in affiliate programs in which we receive a small commission when products are purchased through some links on this website. This does not effect my opinions on books and products. For more information click here.