Review by Booklist Review
Davis, a political progressive icon of the 1960s, tackles the concept and application of freedom in the context of the twenty-first century. She focuses on the growth of the prison industry nationally and internationally, reflecting on forces of capitalism that undercut human freedom. Challenging the reader to conceive of a world without prisons, Davis champions a concept of prison abolition. Hers is not a utopian perspective but one based on historical analysis of how prisons evolved as an alternative to punishment by death and as a continuation of post-slavery racial control. Davis examines the connection of poor education to low employment for American minorities, particularly blacks, making them easy targets for the prison stampede. She also explores the forces of capitalism in relation to developing nations, producing economic instability that leads to mass immigration and another population vulnerable to incarceration. This book is a collection of Davis' lectures from 1994 through 2009, interweaving themes of freedom and bias based on race, gender, and sexual orientation. Davis is at her best linking these perceptively separate segments into a broader concept of freedom across all the lines that separate us.--Ford, Vernon Copyright 2010 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Hot and timely topics like feminism, racism, incarceration, and patriotism are all considered by Davis (Are Prisons Obsolete?) in this collection of her speeches from 1994 to 2009. Structural racism and discrimination are the rhetorical linchpins of these oratories, with Davis advocating for a "radical structural change" in American society, including the abolition of the "prison-industrial complex" and the death penalty. The most compelling moments come when Davis points out ironies and inversions in the results of the apparently increasing equality between races and genders. For Davis, the photos taken at Abu Ghraib in Iraq serve as a prime example of how "gender equality is construed as equal opportunity to wield the weapons and violence controlled by the state." At their best, these speeches are highly rhetorical and persuasive, grounded in readings of DuBois and the personal experiences of Davis. At their weakest, they consist of posturing and unsupported claims. This overview of Davis' fervent lectures is perfect for the unfamiliar, though the incredulous may require a volume with more substantiation. (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.