Whose Story is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters by Rebecca Solnit

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“Who gets to shape the narrative of our times? The current moment is a battle royale over that foundational power, one in which women, people of color, non-straight people are telling other versions, and white people and men and particularly white men are trying to hang onto the old versions and their own centrality. In Whose Story Is This? Rebecca Solnit appraises what’s emerging and why it matters and what the obstacles are.”

-Synopsis from Goodreads


Whose Story is This? Old Conflicts, New Chapters is the latest batch of essays by the wonderful Rebecca Solnit. You may remember Solnit from her previous essays, in particular Men Explain Things to Me in which she coined the term “mansplaining” which we have all come to know in recent years.

Every essay in this new collection is timely, relevant and incredibly thought-provoking. I was familiar with almost everything Solnit referenced in each essay and yet she still found ways to bring new perspectives to familiar stories and current events. I feel that I learned so much after reading this book, and it allowed for quite a bit of introspection, too.

If you are going to read one essay from this collection, I would have to recommend the title essay Whose Story (and Country) is This? On the Myth of A “Real” America which examines the fact that the history of the United States “has been written as the story of the straight, white, Protestant male”, and presents the idea that small-town white America is the only narrative which truly matters.

“We are, as a culture, moving on to a future with more people and more voices and more possibilities.

Some people are being left behind, not because the future is intolerant of them but because they are intolerant of this future.

-Rebecca Solnit

Every single essay in this collection was so enlightening. I wish that books like this could be required reading in high school classrooms around the country because they would have such a great impact on young people, giving them new perspectives to take with them into their futures.

If you have not yet read Men Explain Things to Me or The Mother of All Questions, I would highly recommend reading both, in addition to this book of essays.

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