Favorites of the Year So Far

2018 has seen so much great nonfiction and we’re only halfway there. It’s been quite the year for big nonfiction news stories too, kicking off in January with Fire and Fury frenzy, then the memoir debut of a daughter of Mormon survivalists taking the literary world by storm, James Comey’s much-anticipated tell-all, and a triumphant moment for criminal justice with a serial rapist and killer apprehended more than four decades … Continue reading Favorites of the Year So Far

Inside the North Korean Gulag

Image of Workers’ Party of Korea Monument in Pyongyang by Mannen av börd, edited by Entheta (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons Book review: The Aquariums of Pyongyang, by Kang Chol-Hwan, and Pierre Rigoulot During the first days of my detention, I met a kid who wore black socks. At least that’s what I thought until I realized his socks in … Continue reading Inside the North Korean Gulag

A Journalist on Clinton’s Campaigns and Her Own Role in Covering Them

Book review: Chasing Hillary, by Amy Chozick I just wanted to tell good stories that helped explain the world to people. Every time I read another campaign trail or White House memoir, I tell myself that’s enough. Then a new one comes out and I can’t seem to resist. Longtime traveling journalist on the Hillary Clinton beat Amy Chozick’s Chasing Hillary is the latest, and it’s quite … Continue reading A Journalist on Clinton’s Campaigns and Her Own Role in Covering Them

The New Wild (Mid)West

Book review: Great American Outpost, by Maya Rao One could travel there by taking the interstate all the way across North Dakota, then going up Highway 85, which formed the backbone of the oilfield and ran 1,479 miles from El Paso to the Canadian border. But to really understand the place, a traveler ought to make a series of northern and westerly turns from Jamestown … Continue reading The New Wild (Mid)West

Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

Book review: The View from Flyover Country, by Sarah Kendzior An old adage says to write what you know. As a journalist living in a decayed Midwestern city waiting – and waiting and waiting – for the Great Recession to end, that was what I knew. Political writer, analyst and academic researcher of authoritarian states Sarah Kendzior rose to prominence a few years ago after … Continue reading Sharp Essays on America’s Social, Political, and Economic Bruises

How the Message Got Made in Obama’s White House

Book review: West Winging It, by Pat Cunnane This year and last have seen a wave of newly published memoirs from former Obama staffers. I read speechwriter David Litt’s wonderful, charming Thanks, Obama last year, so after that I was on board with the genre. West Winging It begins with a similar premise – young college grad Pat Cunnane stumbles into his first “real” job and it happens to … Continue reading How the Message Got Made in Obama’s White House

Almost 20 Years On, The Story of Columbine is Haunting and Still Too Relevant

Book review: Columbine, by Dave Cullen Anyone reading here knows I’m a huge fan of narrative (or creative) nonfiction, a genre that can encompass a lot, but the key element is nonfiction that uses narrative literary structures, styles and concepts similar to those used in fiction. Books like Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s masterful and revealing Random Family is a standout example in this genre and one of my … Continue reading Almost 20 Years On, The Story of Columbine is Haunting and Still Too Relevant

Literary Journalism Explores the Why of Young Women’s Radicalization

Book review: Two Sisters, by Asne Seierstad One October day in 2013, Somali-born Norwegian sisters Ayan and Leila (pseudonyms) left a note explaining their intentions, then boarded a flight from Oslo, beginning a journey that led them to a border town in southern Turkey. From there, they crossed into Syria, choosing to live in terrorist-controlled Raqqa, marry IS fighters and have babies, and embrace a … Continue reading Literary Journalism Explores the Why of Young Women’s Radicalization

Letting the Rust Belt Speak

Book review: Voices from the Rust Belt, edited by Anne Trubek These essays address segregated schools, rural childhoods, suburban ennui, lead poisoning, opiate addiction, and job loss. They reflect upon happy childhoods, successful community ventures, warm refuges for outsiders, and hidden oases of natural beauty. But mainly they are stories drawn from uniquely personal experiences. A girl has her bike stolen. A social worker in … Continue reading Letting the Rust Belt Speak

Hacking, Trolling, Espionage, and Moscow Ambitions: A Peek Inside the Russia Probe

Book review: Russian Roulette, by Michael Isikoff and David Corn Political investigative journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn (the former the chief investigative correspondent at Yahoo News and the latter the Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones) write a thoroughly researched, detail-driven, and rage-inducing account of relations between Trump family, campaign, and administration with Russia, as well as the impact of Russian cybercrime on the … Continue reading Hacking, Trolling, Espionage, and Moscow Ambitions: A Peek Inside the Russia Probe

Hilarious, Acidic Commentary From the 2016 Campaign Circus

Book review: Insane Clown President, by Matt Taibbi Who knows what will come next, but that’s not really what this story is about. “Insane Clown President” instead describes how we got here. Matt Taibbi is one of several journalists who covered the madness of the Trump campaign on the ground and has since published in longer form about the experience. Taibbi’s dispatches from the campaign … Continue reading Hilarious, Acidic Commentary From the 2016 Campaign Circus

Immersive Journalism from the Ugly, Scary Heart of America’s White Nationalists

Book review: Everything You Love Will Burn, by Vegas Tenold What had initially motivated my excursion into the world of white supremacy was curiosity about a brand of politics that seemed almost too outdated to be real – and one that I was surprised to find thriving throughout the country.  Journalist Vegas Tenold says that it was the 2011 massacre perpetrated by Anders Behring Breivik … Continue reading Immersive Journalism from the Ugly, Scary Heart of America’s White Nationalists