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profile-icon Kendall McCurley

Garrett Felber's "Those Who Know Don't Say" explores the clandestine world of the Black radical tradition within the confines of America's prison system. With meticulous research and compelling narrative, Felber unveils the obscured histories of Black resistance behind bars, challenging conventional narratives and shedding light on the transformative power of incarcerated activism. He delves deep into the archives of the Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam, illuminating the often overlooked contributions of incarcerated individuals to these movements. Through a series of meticulously crafted narratives, Felber traces the lineage of prison organizing, from its roots in the early 20th century to its resurgence during the Civil Rights era and beyond.

Febler examines the history of state repression, police violence, Black Muslim organizing, and their impacts on the development of the modern carceral state and the contemporary prison abolition movement. State repression, often manifesting through discriminatory laws, surveillance, and violent policing, targeted Black communities throughout history. Police violence, including brutality, unjust arrests, and extrajudicial killings, served as tools of maintaining racial hierarchies and suppressing dissent within Black communities. This violence contributed to the erosion of trust in law enforcement and the state among Black populations.

Black Muslims, including organizations like the Nation of Islam (NOI), played a significant role in advocating for Black self-determination and resistance against racial oppression. The NOI, under leaders like Elijah Muhammad and later Malcolm X, offered a platform for Black empowerment and critiques of white supremacy. Black Muslim organizing provided an alternative framework for addressing systemic injustices, emphasizing community solidarity, self-defense, and cultural pride. However, it also faced intense scrutiny and repression from both state authorities and mainstream society.

Felber also examines the carceral state which refers to the expansive system of policing, surveillance, and incarceration that disproportionately targets marginalized communities, particularly the black community. It has its roots in historical practices of slavery, convict leasing, and Jim Crow laws, which evolved into modern forms of mass incarceration. State responses to Black resistance, such as the militarization of police forces and the implementation of harsh sentencing laws, contributed to the growth of the carceral state. These measures aimed to suppress dissent and maintain racial control, perpetuating cycles of incarceration and social disenfranchisement. Felber argues that the contemporary prison abolition movement emerged in response to the failures of the criminal justice system to address systemic inequalities and provide genuine rehabilitation. It seeks to dismantle the prison-industrial complex and reimagine systems of justice and community support. Drawing on abolitionist principles, activists advocate for alternatives to incarceration, such as restorative justice, community-based interventions, and economic empowerment initiatives. They also challenge the underlying structures of racism, capitalism, and state violence that sustain the carceral state.

Overall, Garrett Felber’s work offers a powerful testament to the enduring legacy of Black resistance within America's prison system. Through his rigorous scholarship and impassioned storytelling, Felber shines a light on the often silenced voices of incarcerated activists, challenging readers to confront the injustices of mass incarceration and envision a more just future. This book is not just a historical account but a call to action, urging us to listen, learn, and amplify the voices of those who have been silenced for far too long.

Cover ArtThose Who Know Don't Say by Garrett Felber
Call Number: BP221 .F45 2020
ISBN: 9781469653822
Publication Date: 2020-01-13
Challenging incarceration and policing was central to the postwar Black Freedom Movement. In this bold new political and intellectual history of the Nation of Islam, Garrett Felber centers the Nation in the Civil Rights Era and the making of the modern carceral state. In doing so, he reveals a multifaceted freedom struggle that focused as much on policing and prisons as on school desegregation and voting rights. The book examines efforts to build broad-based grassroots coalitions among liberals, radicals, and nationalists to oppose the carceral state and struggle for local Black self-determination. It captures the ambiguous place of the Nation of Islam specifically, and Black nationalist organizing more broadly, during an era which has come to be defined by nonviolent resistance, desegregation campaigns, and racial liberalism. By provocatively documenting the interplay between law enforcement and Muslim communities, Felber decisively shows how state repression and Muslim organizing laid the groundwork for the modern carceral state and the contemporary prison abolition movement which opposes it. Exhaustively researched, the book illuminates new sites and forms of political struggle as Muslims prayed under surveillance in prison yards and used courtroom political theater to put the state on trial. This history captures familiar figures in new ways--Malcolm X the courtroom lawyer and A. Philip Randolph the Harlem coalition builder--while highlighting the forgotten organizing of rank-and-file activists in prisons such as Martin Sostre. This definitive account is an urgent reminder that Islamophobia, state surveillance, and police violence have deep roots in the state repression of Black communities during the mid-20th century.
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profile-icon Joyce Smith

If you're anything like me, you've been swept away by mysteries set against the breathtaking backdrop of America's National Parks. After reading Nevada Barr's Track of the Cat, my search for more books exploring the great outdoors led me to the “Joe Pickett” series by C.J. Box. Not only did Free Fire journey through Yellowstone National Park (one of my dream destinations 😊), but it also looks at the family connection (or lack of) between Joe and his father. 

Free Fire, the seventh installment in the Joe Pickett series, follows Joe Picket, the game warden of Twelve Sleep County, Wyoming. Joe is committed to justice and protecting the wilderness and the wildlife who live in it.  In this story, Joe is investigating the disappearance of an environmental activist who was last seen in Yellowstone National Park. While attempting to solve the case, he must also confront the ghosts of his past, including his relationship with his abusive alcoholic father.

One of the most interesting parts of Free Fire is the author’s ability to capture the natural beauty and deadly force of Yellowstone. From the extremely hot bubbling geysers to the rough terrain, the park itself becomes a character, adding depth to the story.  Though the book contained breathtaking scenery and nonstop action, it was Joe's reconnection with his father, George, that really stuck with me. Throughout Free Fire, I saw Joe struggling with unresolved issues from his past, mainly his troubled relationship with his father and the death of his older brother, Victor. As Joe and his father cross paths in Yellowstone, old wounds resurface, leading to moments of tension, self-reflection, and reconciliation.

Throughout Free Fire the author gives us a look into George's past, shedding light on the events that made him into the man he is today. He is unstable and unpredictable and haunted by his own demons, including a history of alcoholism and violence. As we learn of George's past, the author shows us how alcoholism can impact the lives of the individual and their families. We also see how grief doesn't just go away with time. Though they are not in a good place, there are several moments between George and Joe that lead us to believe that there will be healing and forgiveness between the two. As Joe struggles with the challenges of being a game warden, husband, and father, and struggles to come to terms with his father's flaws, he discovers that forgiveness is not easy but needed in order to find peace and closure.

As I followed Joe’s investigation through the wilds of Yellowstone National Park, I found myself engulfed in the story, quickly turning pages to find out what really happened to the missing environmental activist and if Joe and George would eventually reconcile. The author’s talented storytelling and attention to detail kept me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Whether you're a fan of mysteries, family dramas, or just someone looking for your next “good read”, C.J. Box's Free Fire won’t disappoint!

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profile-icon Randi Gibson

Most of the people around me knew I was in the worst reading slump of my life. I was going on close to 4 months without having completed a single book and nothing seemed to be able to break it. I tried reading short stories, but wouldn’t make it past the first page before my brain decided it couldn’t focus on the words. I tried going back to my collection of books that I have reread over many years, but having already known what was going to happen, I’d quickly lose interest. I tried setting the mood, setting a time during the day that I was going to sit and read for that long, only to end up feeling like I was wasting the day away. Nothing was working for me, not even our wonderful book club, because I felt like a fraud going to it with nothing to contribute. But then, my saving angels, our lovely SAC Librarian Victoria Slaughter, and our wonderful Professor of History Matthew Giddings, introduced me to the one book that was finally able to end my suffering.

~Legends & Lattes~

All I was told was that it was a cozy fantasy. My first reaction was “Is cozy fantasy even a thing?” Having read the book and its prequel, I can confidently say yes, it is a thing and I absolutely need more of it in my life! I wasn’t sure what to anticipate going in. I assumed from the cover that it’s a fanfiction about Dungeons & Dragons. I know some aspects of the game but not enough to be able to call myself a player. So, I imagined this wouldn’t be a good read for me. I am very happy to say I was completely wrong.

The main character, Viv, is tired of being a bounty hunter and is hanging up her sword. The orc is settling down to the quiet life, opening a coffee shop in the city of Thune. But can she really leave her previous life behind and find success and a new home, especially in a city where she is a complete stranger and no one even knows what coffee really is?

This book. THIS BOOK! It’s just brimming with joy and heart on every page! To read it is to be enveloped in the gentlest, warmest of hugs. You don’t have to be an orc or bounty hunter to fully appreciate the themes in here – of starting anew, finding yourself and a place to belong, and opening your heart to never-thought-of possibilities. It’s such a core part of the human experience, and this book captured a most lovely rendition of it. But to say this story is cozy doesn’t mean it’s boring. To the contrary, there is excitement and tension aplenty, with all the right components to have me turning the pages as fast as I could. I wanted to gulp it down, but also savor it slowly. I couldn’t think of a single thing I didn’t enjoy in here, from the characters to the plot to the writing. I can totally see why this book has gotten all the hype, and I can’t recommend it enough. Now I know what you’re thinking: But Randi, I don’t read stories about orcs or hobs or gnomes. Well, I didn’t really either, yet here we are! Obviously, if you only enjoy tales of sadness and misery, this book isn’t for you. But if you want something truly heartwarming and delightful, then this is not to be missed.

I finished Legends & Lattes in one afternoon sitting, I devoured the prequel Bookshops & Bonedust in the same amount of time, and now I’m left wanting more. More cozy, more fantasy, more EVERYTHING! I bugged poor Giddings for more recommendations as soon as I could. Sure, he gave the few that he knew of, but still, it isn’t enough. Until more authors get on this genre of books, you can best believe I’m going to be treating the few that are out there like I’m Gollum from Lord of the Rings. We wants the precious. We needs the precious!!


Legends and LattesLegends and Lattes by Travis Baldree
ISBN: 9781250886088
Publication Date: 2022-11-08
An Instant New York Times Bestseller A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2022 A Library Reads Pick An Indie Next Pick A Goodreads Best Fantasy Choice Award Nominee The much-beloved BookTok sensation, Travis Baldree's novel of high fantasy and low stakes. *This new edition includes a very special, never-before-seen bonus story, 'Pages to Fill.'* After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time. The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success -- not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is. If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won't be able to go it alone. But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed. "Take a break from epic battles and saving the world. Legends & Lattes is a low-stakes fantasy that delivers exactly what's advertised: a wholesome, cozy novel that feels like a warm hug. This is my new comfort read."--Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart
Bookshops and BonedustBookshops and Bonedust by Travis Baldree
ISBN: 9781250886101
Publication Date: 2023-11-07
An Instant #1 New York Times, USA Today, and Indie Bestseller A Barnes & Noble Best Fantasy Book of 2023 An Amazon Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Book of 2023 When an injury throws a young, battle-hungry orc off her chosen path, she may find that what we need isn't always what we seek. Set in the world of New York Times bestselling Legends & Lattes, Travis Baldree's Bookshops & Bonedust takes us on a journey of high fantasy, first loves, and secondhand books. Viv's career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam's Ravens isn't going as planned. Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she's packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk--so far from the action that she worries she'll never be able to return to it. What's a thwarted soldier of fortune to do? Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn't possibly imagine. Still, adventure isn't all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv could have ever expected. "Take a break from epic battles and saving the world. This is a low-stakes fantasy that delivers exactly what's advertised: a wholesome, cozy novel that feels like a warm hug. This is my new comfort read."--Genevieve Gornichec, author of The Witch's Heart, on Legends & Lattes


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