Packed with details sure to interest any reader regardless of their opinion of gun culture, Loaded is a much-needed history of the Second Amendment. Opening with a memory of Dunbar-Ortiz’ own experience purchasing guns for protection as a member of an activist community, the author contextualizes the United States’ relationship with guns (and gun control) from the amendment’s inception to today’s headlines. She masterfully turns over familiar ideas—the NRA, Western heroes, workplace shootings—to expose less familiar truths, illuminating American violence and reckoning with the country’s patterns of settler-colonialism. With a memorable mixture of depth and incisiveness, Dunbar-Ortiz lays out the white supremacist history of gun violence, providing a critical—yet often missing—perspective.
Although Peter Moskowitz is upfront regarding his own experience with gentrification, How to Kill a City tackles the subject not from a nostalgic standpoint but from the present. As Moskowitz takes us through New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, and Detroit - four cities experiencing rapid gentrification in ways unique and similar - we gain firsthand knowledge as to how the new luxury condos, offices, and restaurants that constitute the current wave of professional-class urban renewal often mean displacement and violence for marginalized communities. A great companion read to Richard Rothstein's The Color of Law, How to Kill a City shows how redlining continues to this day and will perhaps inspire the reader to take action for fairer and more equitable cities.
Starting with his definition of a city as both a physical place and a mentality, Sennett is a critic of distinctions. Elucidating the claims of both the ville and the cité, describing the differences between boundaries and borders, defining sociability and sociality, and, most of all, advocating an open city (flexible, porous, resilient democratic) as opposed to a closed one (rigid, controlling, prescribed, authoritarian), Sennett gives a brilliant survey of what cities have been, are, and might be, all in the service of establishing “an ethics” of these built environments that can perhaps solve some of the problems—inequality, racism—that the social sciences cannot. Both an urbanist and an urbanite himself, Sennett balances abstractions with the real experiences of people in cities. His book takes us to today’s Shanghai, New York, Barcelona, Medellín, and Berlin, showing how different forms of grid patterns work, observing how people interact with strangers and noting which kinds of strangers are likely to encounter each other. He studies urban modes of empathy and aloofness and gives a quick lesson in proxemics: the science of how people choose to clump. Sennett is as wide-ranging intellectually as he is geographically. From St. Augustine to Google, his reference points include Lucretius and Tocqueville, Kant and Heidegger, nineteenth-century French novels and Teju Cole’s 2011 Open City, along with the more predictable Jane Jacobs, Lewis Mumford, and Le Corbusier. Like a great city itself, this book is lively, surprising, and teeming with things to notice and think about.