cover image Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches from the Wrong Side of History

Morning After the Revolution: Dispatches from the Wrong Side of History

Nellie Bowles. Thesis, $30 (272p) ISBN 978-0-593-42014-0

The American progressive left has lost its mind, according to this thin debut. Bowles, staff writer for the Free Press, surveys the far left’s most criticized flash points and failures of the past four years, including violence in Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, drug use in Los Angeles’s Echo Park Tent Community, and the rise and recall of Chesa Boudin, San Francisco’s anti–mass incarceration district attorney. Bowles concedes that “New Progressives” are well-meaning in their desire to battle bigotry and systemic violence, but criticizes their tactics, which she most successfully lampoons through personal recollections, like her mildly funny roast of an antiracist course she attended. Led by mostly white women instructors for mostly white women participants, the course serves as fodder for Bowles’s keen observation that critiques of “whiteness” have become just another outlet for white women’s “self-flagellation” over their bodies. Unfortunately, such perceptiveness is fleeting; by and large, the narrative has a feeling of incompleteness, as complicated subjects such as gender-affirming care for minors receive limited treatments so Bowles can quickly move on to easier, fringier targets, like nerdy Tumblr asexuals. Bowles glosses all these topics with the standard wokeness-gone-too-far veneer that originally made them go viral in right-wing media, while not adding much journalistic depth. The result is a toothless recap of anti-woke talking points. (May)