Recently featured on public radio

all things considered

The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy by Joel Beckerman, Tyler Gray
  Buy Book | Kindle
All Things Considered: From Sizzling Fajitas To The Super Bowl, How Sounds Help Sell
From horror movie scores to national anthems to the crunchy sound of potato chips, sound and music greatly impact how we feel about our lives and the messages and products we encounter every day. With the right tools and understanding, anyone can cut through the meaningless noise competing for our attention and learn to use sound as a rich storytelling strategy.
You don’t need to be a musician or a composer to harness the power of sound. Joel Beckerman explains how companies, brands, and individuals can strategically use sound to get to the core of their mission, influence how they’re perceived by their audiences, and gain a competitive advantage. The key to these sonic strategies involves creating “boom moments” — transcendent instants when sound connects with a listener’s emotional core.
The Sonic Boom draws surprising insights from real world examples: the way Disney parks score every second of their guests’ experience; how Chili’s restaurants uses lessons from evolutionary psychology to sell tons of sizzling fajitas, how the sound of a special edition Mustang’s engine is designed to make drivers feel like action-movie heroes. Sure to appeal to fans of Made to Stick and This Is Your Brain on Music, The Sonic Boom offers readers a powerful new vocabulary for sharing impactful messages with sound.

The Sonic Boom: How Sound Transforms the Way We Think, Feel, and Buy by Joel Beckerman, Tyler Gray

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: From Sizzling Fajitas To The Super Bowl, How Sounds Help Sell

From horror movie scores to national anthems to the crunchy sound of potato chips, sound and music greatly impact how we feel about our lives and the messages and products we encounter every day. With the right tools and understanding, anyone can cut through the meaningless noise competing for our attention and learn to use sound as a rich storytelling strategy.

You don’t need to be a musician or a composer to harness the power of sound. Joel Beckerman explains how companies, brands, and individuals can strategically use sound to get to the core of their mission, influence how they’re perceived by their audiences, and gain a competitive advantage. The key to these sonic strategies involves creating “boom moments” — transcendent instants when sound connects with a listener’s emotional core.

The Sonic Boom draws surprising insights from real world examples: the way Disney parks score every second of their guests’ experience; how Chili’s restaurants uses lessons from evolutionary psychology to sell tons of sizzling fajitas, how the sound of a special edition Mustang’s engine is designed to make drivers feel like action-movie heroes. Sure to appeal to fans of Made to Stick and This Is Your Brain on Music, The Sonic Boom offers readers a powerful new vocabulary for sharing impactful messages with sound.

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano
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Good Food: 60 Types of Tortas at Tortas Sinaloa
The Dinner Party Download: Writer Gustavo Arellano on How Mexican Food Conquered America
All Things Considered: The California Taco Trail: ‘How Mexican Food Conquered America’
For 50 years, the taco has been a staple of American life. It’s in school lunches and Michelin-star restaurants; it even helped launch the food truck craze. So how did the taco come to loom so large in American bellies? Gustavo Arellano explains our love of all things folded into a tortilla.

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

Good Food: 60 Types of Tortas at Tortas Sinaloa

The Dinner Party Download: Writer Gustavo Arellano on How Mexican Food Conquered America

All Things Considered: The California Taco Trail: ‘How Mexican Food Conquered America’

For 50 years, the taco has been a staple of American life. It’s in school lunches and Michelin-star restaurants; it even helped launch the food truck craze. So how did the taco come to loom so large in American bellies? Gustavo Arellano explains our love of all things folded into a tortilla.

The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu by Dan Jurafsky
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All Things Considered: 'Language Of Food' Reveals Mysteries Of Menu Words And Ketchup
The Daily Circuit: Dan Jurafsky decodes ‘The Language of Food’
The Leonard Lopate Show: Where Does the Word Ketchup Come From? And Other Questions on the Language of Food
Good Food: A Linguist’s Tour of Food
A linguist delves into the world of food, describing the true meanings of descriptive words like “rich” and “crispy” when they appear on a menu and tracing how traditional and favorite dishes spread and changed through colonial shipping routes.

The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu by Dan Jurafsky

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: 'Language Of Food' Reveals Mysteries Of Menu Words And Ketchup

The Daily Circuit: Dan Jurafsky decodes ‘The Language of Food’

The Leonard Lopate Show: Where Does the Word Ketchup Come From? And Other Questions on the Language of Food

Good Food: A Linguist’s Tour of Food

A linguist delves into the world of food, describing the true meanings of descriptive words like “rich” and “crispy” when they appear on a menu and tracing how traditional and favorite dishes spread and changed through colonial shipping routes.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
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All Things Considered: After A Flurry Of Literary Awards, A Book On The ‘Wonder’ Of Words
In a story exploring the theme of the artist’s isolation, Grady Tripp, an obese, aging writer who has lost his way, and debauched editor Terry Crabtree struggle to rekindle their friendship, a sense of adventure, and purpose in their lives.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: After A Flurry Of Literary Awards, A Book On The ‘Wonder’ Of Words

In a story exploring the theme of the artist’s isolation, Grady Tripp, an obese, aging writer who has lost his way, and debauched editor Terry Crabtree struggle to rekindle their friendship, a sense of adventure, and purpose in their lives.

Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan
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All Things Considered: A Funny Philosopher Tackles A Tough Query: ‘Does Santa Exist?’
Eric Kaplan offers a humorous philosophical investigation into the existence of Santa, examining the theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, the wisdom of the major religions, and classic bits of comedy.

Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: A Funny Philosopher Tackles A Tough Query: ‘Does Santa Exist?’

Eric Kaplan offers a humorous philosophical investigation into the existence of Santa, examining the theories of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, the wisdom of the major religions, and classic bits of comedy.

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers
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All Things Considered: In This ‘Alphabet,’ ‘O’ Is For Helpful Owl And ‘C’ Is For Escapist Cup
THE alphabet book to top all others, from the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit!
If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters.
The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don’t they all!) and 112 pages. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.
In Once Upon an Alphabet, #1 New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers has created a stunning collection of words and artwork that is a story book, alphabet book, and gorgeously designed art book all in one.

Once Upon an Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters by Oliver Jeffers

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: In This ‘Alphabet,’ ‘O’ Is For Helpful Owl And ‘C’ Is For Escapist Cup

THE alphabet book to top all others, from the illustrator of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Day the Crayons Quit!

If words make up the stories and letters make up the words, then stories are made up of letters. In this menagerie we have stories made of words, made FOR all the letters.

The most inventive and irresistible book of the year spans a mere 26 letters (don’t they all!) and 112 pages. From an Astronaut who’s afraid of heights, to a Bridge that ends up burned between friends, to a Cup stuck in a cupboard and longing for freedom, Once Upon an Alphabet is a creative tour de force from A through Z. Slyly funny in a way kids can’t resist, and gorgeously illustrated in a way readers of all ages will pour over, this series of interconnected stories and characters explores the alphabet in a way that will forever raise the bar.

In Once Upon an Alphabet, #1 New York Times bestseller Oliver Jeffers has created a stunning collection of words and artwork that is a story book, alphabet book, and gorgeously designed art book all in one.

Snowpiercer
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All Things Considered: In ‘Snowpiercer,’ A Never-Ending Train Ride And A Society Badly Off Track
NPR: The Satisfying Chill Of The Audacious ‘Snowpiercer’
Fresh Air: In The Mood For Apocalypse? Skip ‘Transformers,’ See ‘Snowpiercer’
The Takeaway: Movie Date: Snowpiercer
The Business: Radius’ Tom Quinn on ‘Snowpiercer’
The film is set in the future (AD 2031) where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. Its inhabitants are divided by class; the lower-class passengers in one of the last cars stage an uprising, moving car by car up to the front of the train, where the oppressive rich and powerful ride.

Snowpiercer

Buy  Buy DVD | Blu-ray

All Things Considered: In ‘Snowpiercer,’ A Never-Ending Train Ride And A Society Badly Off Track

NPR: The Satisfying Chill Of The Audacious ‘Snowpiercer’

Fresh Air: In The Mood For Apocalypse? Skip ‘Transformers,’ See ‘Snowpiercer’

The Takeaway: Movie Date: Snowpiercer

The Business: Radius’ Tom Quinn on ‘Snowpiercer’

The film is set in the future (AD 2031) where, after a failed experiment to stop global warming, an Ice Age kills off all life on the planet except for the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a train that travels around the globe and is powered by a sacred perpetual-motion engine. Its inhabitants are divided by class; the lower-class passengers in one of the last cars stage an uprising, moving car by car up to the front of the train, where the oppressive rich and powerful ride.

Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1
  Buy DVD | Blu-ray
Fresh Air: 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner On The End Of Don Draper's Journey
Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Pauses At The Half-Season With A Song And Dance
Monkey See: Shirley, This Is The Dawn Of A New ‘Mad Men’
Weekend Edition: Elisabeth Moss Revels In Naive-But-Calculating Characters
Morning Edition: Don Draper, The Truth Is: You Lied
Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Returns, Full Of Footnotes
Fresh Air: Without Giving Too Much Away, Here’s What We Can Say About ‘Mad Men’
Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Reveals: In The New Season, People Will Wear Things
All Things Considered: 'Mad Black Men': Yes, There Were Black People In ’60s Advertising
The seventh and final season of the American television drama series Mad Men consists of 14 episodes split into two, seven-episode parts: the first half, titled “The Beginning”, began on April 13, 2014, on AMC; the second half, titled “The End of an Era”, will premiere in spring 2015.
The first part of season 7 begins in January 1969, several weeks after the Thanksgiving 1968 ending of season 6, and ends in July 1969, with characters dealing with the dynamics of lives and offices being split between New York and Los Angeles.

Mad Men: The Final Season Part 1

Buy  Buy DVD | Blu-ray

Fresh Air: 'Mad Men' Creator Matthew Weiner On The End Of Don Draper's Journey

Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Pauses At The Half-Season With A Song And Dance

Monkey See: Shirley, This Is The Dawn Of A New ‘Mad Men’

Weekend Edition: Elisabeth Moss Revels In Naive-But-Calculating Characters

Morning Edition: Don Draper, The Truth Is: You Lied

Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Returns, Full Of Footnotes

Fresh Air: Without Giving Too Much Away, Here’s What We Can Say About ‘Mad Men’

Monkey See: 'Mad Men' Reveals: In The New Season, People Will Wear Things

All Things Considered: 'Mad Black Men': Yes, There Were Black People In ’60s Advertising

The seventh and final season of the American television drama series Mad Men consists of 14 episodes split into two, seven-episode parts: the first half, titled “The Beginning”, began on April 13, 2014, on AMC; the second half, titled “The End of an Era”, will premiere in spring 2015.

The first part of season 7 begins in January 1969, several weeks after the Thanksgiving 1968 ending of season 6, and ends in July 1969, with characters dealing with the dynamics of lives and offices being split between New York and Los Angeles.

The Avenues by Lera Lynn
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As Heard on Public Radio:
All Things Considered: Music Review - Lera Lynn’s ‘the Avenues’
Texas-native Lera Lynn sings about past relationships. But her music moves beyond the one-note storied, country sound. On her latest album, The Avenues, Lynn fuses folk, country, jazz and pop.

The Avenues by Lera Lynn

Buy  Buy MP3 | iTunes

As Heard on Public Radio:

All Things Considered: Music Review - Lera Lynn’s ‘the Avenues’

Texas-native Lera Lynn sings about past relationships. But her music moves beyond the one-note storied, country sound. On her latest album, The Avenues, Lynn fuses folk, country, jazz and pop.

Hozier by Hozier
  Buy CD | Vinyl | iTunes
All Things Considered: Talking Blues With Hozier, A One-Man Irish Invasion
Tiny Desk Concerts: Hozier
The Current: Album Review: Hozier, ‘Hozier’
The Current: Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ and the songs that follow us around
Morning Becomes Eclectic: Hozier
It’s not often that you stumble across a songwriter whose lyrics both sound and read like poetry. When those lyrics are set to music that balances burning indignation with lilting tenderness, and delivered in a voice imbued with the spiritual passion and yearning of gospel and the blues, you figure you’ve chanced upon something special. And so it is with 23-year-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne, an Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from County Wicklow who goes by the name of Hozier.
Hozier releases his self-titled debut album on Columbia Records, following his two EPs Take Me To Church and From Eden. The new album produced by Ron Kirwan (PJ Harvey and Depeche Mode). Hozier will feature the hit single “Take Me To Church” as well as his most recent release “Sedated.”
Raised in a musical family, Hozier’s childhood and adolescent listening was dominated, he says, “by Chicago blues, Texan blues, Chess Records, Motown, and then I discovered jazz, but more importantly, Delta blues that extraordinarily haunting sound. Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, people like that. Later, it was Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, plus Tom Waits was a huge, huge influence. I was always drawn to singers with something haunting about their voices. The same goes for writers such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You can’t define what it is, but it buries itself deep in your soul.”
After a string of sold out dates and electrifying performances including TV appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hozier will return stateside when he launches his first national headline tour this fall. The tour crisscrosses the country before wrapping up with two shows in New York City. 
Tastemakers and critics have wholeheartedly embraced his spirited and soulful sound. He’s drawn praise from NPR, New York Magazine, KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, MTV Buzzworthy, Consequence of Sound, and more. Most recently he was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concert.

Hozier by Hozier

Buy  Buy CD | Vinyl | iTunes

All Things Considered: Talking Blues With Hozier, A One-Man Irish Invasion

Tiny Desk Concerts: Hozier

The Current: Album Review: Hozier, ‘Hozier’

The Current: Hozier’s ‘Take Me to Church’ and the songs that follow us around

Morning Becomes Eclectic: Hozier

It’s not often that you stumble across a songwriter whose lyrics both sound and read like poetry. When those lyrics are set to music that balances burning indignation with lilting tenderness, and delivered in a voice imbued with the spiritual passion and yearning of gospel and the blues, you figure you’ve chanced upon something special. And so it is with 23-year-old Andrew Hozier-Byrne, an Irish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from County Wicklow who goes by the name of Hozier.

Hozier releases his self-titled debut album on Columbia Records, following his two EPs Take Me To Church and From Eden. The new album produced by Ron Kirwan (PJ Harvey and Depeche Mode). Hozier will feature the hit single “Take Me To Church” as well as his most recent release “Sedated.”

Raised in a musical family, Hozier’s childhood and adolescent listening was dominated, he says, “by Chicago blues, Texan blues, Chess Records, Motown, and then I discovered jazz, but more importantly, Delta blues that extraordinarily haunting sound. Skip James, Blind Willie Johnson, people like that. Later, it was Pink Floyd, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, plus Tom Waits was a huge, huge influence. I was always drawn to singers with something haunting about their voices. The same goes for writers such as James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. You can’t define what it is, but it buries itself deep in your soul.”

After a string of sold out dates and electrifying performances including TV appearances on The Late Show With David Letterman and The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Hozier will return stateside when he launches his first national headline tour this fall. The tour crisscrosses the country before wrapping up with two shows in New York City. 

Tastemakers and critics have wholeheartedly embraced his spirited and soulful sound. He’s drawn praise from NPR, New York Magazine, KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, MTV Buzzworthy, Consequence of Sound, and more. Most recently he was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Tiny Desk Concert.

When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird, Earvin Johnson, Jackie MacMullan
  Buy Book | Kindle
All Things Considered: Magic And Bird: A Rivalry Gives Way To Friendship
Two NBA legends offer a definitive account of their decades-long rivalry and friendship, exploring Bird’s struggles with chronic pain and Johnson’s discovery that he had contracted HIV.

When the Game Was Ours by Larry Bird, Earvin Johnson, Jackie MacMullan

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: Magic And Bird: A Rivalry Gives Way To Friendship

Two NBA legends offer a definitive account of their decades-long rivalry and friendship, exploring Bird’s struggles with chronic pain and Johnson’s discovery that he had contracted HIV.

Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider
  Buy Book | Kindle
All Things Considered: Berlin Wears The Scars Of Its Past All Over
A smartly guided romp, entertaining and enlightening, through Europe’s most charismatic and enigmatic city
It isn’t Europe’s most beautiful city, or its oldest. Its architecture is not more impressive than that of Rome or Paris; its museums do not hold more treasures than those in Barcelona or London. And yet, when citizens of “New York, Tel Aviv, or Rome ask me where I’m from and I mention the name Berlin,” writes Peter Schneider, “their eyes instantly light up.”
Berlin Now is a longtime Berliner’s bright, bold, and digressive exploration of the heterogeneous allure of this vibrant city. Delving beneath the obvious answers—Berlin’s club scene, bolstered by the lack of a mandatory closing time; the artistic communities that thrive due to the relatively low (for now) cost of living—Schneider takes us on an insider’s tour of this rapidly metamorphosing metropolis, where high-class soirees are held at construction sites and enterprising individuals often accomplish more without public funding—assembling a makeshift club on the banks of the Spree River—than Berlin’s officials do.
Schneider’s perceptive, witty investigations on everything from the insidious legacy of suspicion instilled by the East German secret police to the clashing attitudes toward work, food, and love held by former East and West Berliners have been sharply translated by Sophie Schlondorff. The result is a book so lively that readers will want to jump on a plane—just as soon as they’ve finished their adventures on the page.

Berlin Now: The City After the Wall by Peter Schneider

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: Berlin Wears The Scars Of Its Past All Over

A smartly guided romp, entertaining and enlightening, through Europe’s most charismatic and enigmatic city

It isn’t Europe’s most beautiful city, or its oldest. Its architecture is not more impressive than that of Rome or Paris; its museums do not hold more treasures than those in Barcelona or London. And yet, when citizens of “New York, Tel Aviv, or Rome ask me where I’m from and I mention the name Berlin,” writes Peter Schneider, “their eyes instantly light up.”

Berlin Now is a longtime Berliner’s bright, bold, and digressive exploration of the heterogeneous allure of this vibrant city. Delving beneath the obvious answers—Berlin’s club scene, bolstered by the lack of a mandatory closing time; the artistic communities that thrive due to the relatively low (for now) cost of living—Schneider takes us on an insider’s tour of this rapidly metamorphosing metropolis, where high-class soirees are held at construction sites and enterprising individuals often accomplish more without public funding—assembling a makeshift club on the banks of the Spree River—than Berlin’s officials do.

Schneider’s perceptive, witty investigations on everything from the insidious legacy of suspicion instilled by the East German secret police to the clashing attitudes toward work, food, and love held by former East and West Berliners have been sharply translated by Sophie Schlondorff. The result is a book so lively that readers will want to jump on a plane—just as soon as they’ve finished their adventures on the page.

The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President by Aaron David Miller
  Buy Book | Kindle
All Things Considered: Historian: FDR Was The Last Great President. Let’s Never Have Another
The Daily Circuit: Who lost Iraq?
A political adviser to secretaries of state of both parties discusses how the expectation of greatness in our presidents has made it nearly impossible to be a “good” president in modern times.

The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President by Aaron David Miller

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: Historian: FDR Was The Last Great President. Let’s Never Have Another

The Daily Circuit: Who lost Iraq?

A political adviser to secretaries of state of both parties discusses how the expectation of greatness in our presidents has made it nearly impossible to be a “good” president in modern times.

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart
  Buy Book | Kindle
Fresh Air: 'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart
All Things Considered: Gary Shteyngart’s ‘Little Failure’ Is An Unambivalent Success
The award-winning author of Super Sad True Story traces his uproarious experiences as a young bullied Jewish-Russian immigrant in Queens, his haphazard college pursuits and his initial forays into a literary career.

Little Failure: A Memoir by Gary Shteyngart

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

Fresh Air: 'You Can't Be This Furry' And Other Life Lessons From Gary Shteyngart

All Things Considered: Gary Shteyngart’s ‘Little Failure’ Is An Unambivalent Success

The award-winning author of Super Sad True Story traces his uproarious experiences as a young bullied Jewish-Russian immigrant in Queens, his haphazard college pursuits and his initial forays into a literary career.

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs
  Buy Book | Kindle
All Things Considered: 'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America
Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.
As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.
Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

A Chosen Exile: A History of Racial Passing in American Life by Allyson Hobbs

Buy  Buy Book | Kindle

All Things Considered: 'A Chosen Exile': Black People Passing In White America

Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.

As racial relations in America have evolved so has the significance of passing. To pass as white in the antebellum South was to escape the shackles of slavery. After emancipation, many African Americans came to regard passing as a form of betrayal, a selling of one’s birthright. When the initially hopeful period of Reconstruction proved short-lived, passing became an opportunity to defy Jim Crow and strike out on one’s own.

Although black Americans who adopted white identities reaped benefits of expanded opportunity and mobility, Hobbs helps us to recognize and understand the grief, loneliness, and isolation that accompanied—and often outweighed—these rewards. By the dawning of the civil rights era, more and more racially mixed Americans felt the loss of kin and community was too much to bear, that it was time to “pass out” and embrace a black identity. Although recent decades have witnessed an increasingly multiracial society and a growing acceptance of hybridity, the problem of race and identity remains at the center of public debate and emotionally fraught personal decisions.

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