Mon 18 Feb, 2008
Tags: Gender, Media coverage, Privilege
The reviewer, book editor Marjorie Kehe, finds particular value in Tom’s “spirit of honesty and the willingness to confront the ugly parts of human experience,” concluding that while Tom offers no easy answers to the difficult questions he raises, “honest self-examination remains an excellent place to start.”
The online version of the review also offers an audio interview which Kehe conducted with Tom.
Kehe focuses her review on an aspect of the book which I’ve always found particularly compelling. She notes that, after the journey to retrace the triangle trade, Tom writes that those events quickly “faded into a dot on my life’s road map.” She then argues that “this book would have had lost much punch” were it not for the scandal which took over Tom’s life in 2005 and which he covers in considerable detail in chapter 16.
Kehe writes that once these “indiscretions” had “surfaced and threatened to lay waste to his life,” the consequences gave Tom’s earlier journey “a whole new level of meaning”:
[Tom] was forced to take a good look at himself and he did not like what he saw. And as he thought back over his righteous indignation over the acts of his ancestors, he recognized that, “when I pondered the fundamental issues of power, privilege, and selfishness, I realized I wasn’t quite as different from them as I imagined.”
She concludes that “it takes an honest man to write such words and think such thoughts,” and that it is this realization of Tom’s which gives the book its honesty and much of its power.
I couldn’t agree more.