#BookReview: We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia

Mostly Solid Work A Bit Misguided By Its Own Biases. This is one of the more comprehensive books I’ve found about the actual issues facing Autistics in the current world (circa 2020) – well, in the US anyway. Discussions of education, gender, housing, personhood, etc are mostly solid and mostly problem free, focusing on numerous interviews the author has conducted over several years combined with well documented (roughly 32% of the text of this Advance Reader Copy I read) research.

It even has two *extremely* good points:
1) “We don’t know what Autism in and of itself looks like. We only know how autism informed by trauma presents itself.” -Cal Montgomery
2) From the close of Chapter 9: “People who are not Autistic often assume they are acting benevolently by hand-holding those on the spectrum. But despite their best intentions, there is an element of condescension in thse actions because it assumes that non-Autistic people know what’s best. But it is Autistic people who live with the condition of Autism – for all of its positives and negatives – as well as the consequences of any collective action meant to help them. If there is going to be policy that has seismic impact on their lives, they deserve to have a say it in, no mater how they communicate. Furthermore, while many parent advocates, clinicians, and other “experts” may have good intentions, centering their voices continues to give them power that should lie with the Autistic community. To achieve any true sense of freedom, Autistic people need to take this power back.”

HOWEVER, the fact that the discussion routinely ignores and even outright dismisses the needs and challenges of white Autistics and/ or Autistics who *do* find meaningful employment in the science and/ or technology sectors means that the book fails to have truly the comprehensive discussion of the condition that it seems to seek to have. In ignoring these facets, it doesn’t truly “change the Autism conversation” in any truly helpful manner, as it blatantly ignores and dismisses a key component that can actually do quite a bit of good in trying to address all of the other issues the narrative does go in detail on. We Autistic technologists can create the very technologies Garcia sometimes points to as being needed, in part because we ourselves truly do live with these very same issues – and thus, we don’t actually need a neurotypical trying to approximate some solution, as we can create a solution that works for our own particular case and allow for it to be customized to fit other cases as well.

Ultimately this truly is a very strong look at the state of Autistic society today and the issues Autistics face in trying to fully integrate into larger neurotypical societies, it simply missed its potential to be so much more. Very much recommended.

This review of We’re Not Broken by Eric Garcia was originally written on March 14, 2021.

Featured New Release Of The Week: Unique by David Linden

This week we’re looking at one of the most precise science books I’ve encountered this year. This week, we’re looking at Unique by David Linden.

Given the topics Linden discusses here – among them sex, gender, sexuality, race, experience, even memory and sense – it is incredibly easy, maybe even tempting, for many authors of science books to wax at least somewhat political even while discussing the science of a given topic. Indeed, many do.

Linden does not, and that is one of the greatest strengths of this book.

Instead, Linden focuses *exactly* on where the science of the issue currently is, and says it with a fair degree of specificity. Such as instead of saying “many”, he’ll say “30%” – even if the exact number may be 27.84% or 32.16%, “30%” is close enough for those of us just trying for a general understanding of the topic at hand, and far more precise than many authors will give. Further, if the science is changing or inconclusive on a given topic, Linden notes this as well, at times even clearly noting where he himself has reviewed the research at hand.

Ultimately, the book does a truly remarkable job of explaining what we currently know about the science of human variance and how all of these combinations form to make an individual… well, an individual. Truly a remarkable read, and one that many would do well to read. 🙂 Very much recommended.

As always, the Goodreads/ BookBub review:
Continue reading “Featured New Release Of The Week: Unique by David Linden”

Featured New Release Of The Week: Republic of Wrath by James Morone

This week we’re looking at a a truly fascinating history of just how fragmented America has been seemingly from its very founding – including incidents just prior to the Civil War that would make even the most heated activists of today blanche in terror. This week we’re looking at Republic Of Wrath by James Morone.

Unfortunately I’m facing a form of “writer’s block” these days that is barely allowing me to write a Goodreads level review, so that is all I have to offer this week.

Excellent History Lesson. I’m a guy that prides myself in knowing more about American history than most. (Well, let’s be honest, my normal line is that I know more about most than most, and that generally holds true – even when people know far more than I do about a given topic.) Anyways… 😀 This book did a phenomenal job of bringing forth quite a bit of American history that even I wasn’t aware of, particularly in my acknowledged weak area between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. For example, despite how heated American political discourse feels at times over the last couple of years in particular, apparently there was a point in the lead-up to the Civil War where *Congressmen* routinely brought knives and guns *onto Capitol Hill*. Indeed, one line Morone quotes from a Congressman of the time is that those that didn’t bring a knife and a gun brought two guns! While the ending of the narrative, with Morone’s recommendations of how to fix where we find ourselves, is more “your mileage may vary” level, the lead up to that point is a solid look at American history, if hyper focused on the general premise that all conflict came from either race or immigration – which is a bit disingenuous at times, but the analysis here isn’t so flawed as to claim absolute exclusivity to the premise. Absolutely a must-read for Americans and really anyone wishing to understand how America has arrived at its current place in time. Very much recommended.