Readers will be intrigued by Johnson’s outraged analysis of past events that she claims have clouded our ability to perceive oppression: she covers the United States and Canada’s history of forcing indigenous children into residential schooling, witch hunts that were used as a tool to enforce patriarchal laws, and the Black Death’s decimation of the workforce, a catastrophe that she argues led to members of the ruling class targeting women and children by classifying them as the property of men. Some sweeping assertions may test readers, such as her contention that young male peasants were eager to be subservient to the upper class in exchange for the right to legally rape women, but overall she offers thoughtful reflections on the grim history of exploitation.
Johnson’s solution to escaping a life of “violence and hardship” is to forge our own path, casting aside fears of rejection and focusing on new habits that empower self-trust. She offers some concrete guidance in this process—including visualizing a “memory palace” to compartmentalize and store information from our achievements and personal resources to ineffective ways of thinking— that will give readers a starting point for taking ownership of their wellbeing. Readers feeling the weight of history and searching for against-the-grain answers to the afflictions of modern life will appreciate this read.
Takeaway: This eye-opening guide to alternative ways to lead a fulfilling life digs deep into the origins of oppression.
Great for fans of: Vicky Pryce’s Women Vs. Capitalism, James Davies’s Sedated.
Design and typography: B
Marketing copy: A-