A Rare Biography of Ruthless, Enigmatic North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

Book review: The Great Successor, by Anna Fifield (Amazon / Book Depository) I didn’t imagine a book about Kim Jong Un would be an unputdownable page-turner, but here we are. I’m not sure anything I write about The Great Successor is going to do it justice as it’s tough to encapsulate, but I’ll try. Kim Jong Un is the younger son of Kim Jong Il, the second … Continue reading A Rare Biography of Ruthless, Enigmatic North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Book review: Behind Putin’s Curtain, by Stephan Orth (Amazon / Book Depository) Hamburg-based journalist Stephan Orth has written several books about his global couchsurfing adventures in unconventional locales. Orth brings a certain cheerful openness and humorous curiosity to his adventuring, and of the touristic method of couchsurfing, he mentions that it offers “the mutual gift of time and curiosity,” something lacking in all-inclusive trips or … Continue reading The Wild, Wonderful World of Couchsurfing in Russia

Andrew McCabe’s FBI Perspective On Why None of This is Normal

Book review: The Threat, by Andrew McCabe (Amazon / Book Depository) Several times throughout The Threat, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe describes a scene in the Oval Office. People called in to meet with Donald Trump sit on small wooden chairs lined up in front of the Resolute desk, “like schoolboys who’d been called to the principal’s office.” Considering who’s positioned like this, from … Continue reading Andrew McCabe’s FBI Perspective On Why None of This is Normal

All the Latest Conspiracy Theories: A Journalist Explores

Book review: Republic of Lies, by Anna Merlan (Amazon / Book Depository) It’s a typically disorienting winter day in an unremarkable part of Los Angeles, the palm trees bristling above the Walgreens and the tire shops, the golden light washing insistently over the slowly rotating sign above a twenty-four-hour burger joint, its paint peeled away into nonexistence. The sun doesn’t penetrate into this vast, windowless … Continue reading All the Latest Conspiracy Theories: A Journalist Explores

Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

Book review: No One Man Should Have All That Power, by Amos Barshad (Amazon / Book Depository) Wherever there is a puppet master, an eminence grise, a Svengali, a manipulator, a secret controller – that is a Rasputin. Author Amos Barshad, fascinated by the shadowy and powerful, started noticing manipulative figures everywhere, from pop culture to politics. He developed a seven-point system to identify the … Continue reading Modern Rasputins: Identifying the Manipulators in Power

The View From Tehran

Book review: I’m Writing You From Tehran, by Delphine Minoui (Amazon / Book Depository) The taxi rolls along gray lines. That’s all we can make out in the darkness: gray lines, as far as the eye can see, marking out the road to the airport. Outside, beyond the window, the night devours the last forbidden words I heard. How many will still dare to shout … Continue reading The View From Tehran

Janet Malcolm’s Profiles, Politics, and Literary Criticism

Book review: Nobody’s Looking at You, by Janet Malcolm (Amazon / Book Depository) Janet Malcolm has an ability I so admire, to observe people and situations deeply and distill what she sees so meaningfully, shaping her storytelling. It’s one thing to look, and another to really see; and she’s remarkably perceptive. It’s kind of a marvel to watch her work. Nobody’s Looking at You collects essays … Continue reading Janet Malcolm’s Profiles, Politics, and Literary Criticism

Ukraine Through Personal and Political Lenses

Book review: In Wartime, by Tim Judah (Amazon / Book Depository) As we came closer to the coast, birds skimmed and whirled. The coastline is always changing here. Sediment and sand constantly form new low islands and sandbanks. Finally, we came to where this branch of the river flows out to the sea. A monument has been erected on the beach and become slightly lopsided. … Continue reading Ukraine Through Personal and Political Lenses

A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

Book review: In Putin’s Footsteps, by Nina Khrushcheva and Jeffrey Tayler (Amazon / Book Depository) The new stories were no longer those of Yeltsin’s Russia, which was perceived, both at home and abroad, as a weak, insignificant, and corrupt bogeyman reeling from its Cold War defeat. These were stories of an enigmatic young technocrat tirelessly crisscrossing the country and meeting with workers, farmers, and cultural … Continue reading A Travelogue In Search Of What’s Making Russia Great Again

The Kids Who Said “Never Again”

Book review: Parkland, by Dave Cullen (Amazon / Book Depository) Heart first, then head. Reignite the imperative to act, and then map out how we get there. Dave Cullen cemented his role as the go-to journalist for commentary on school shootings with Columbine, his ten-years-in-the-making book that brilliantly, painfully chronicles the narratives around the shooting that would unfortunately herald a rash of them. As a result of … Continue reading The Kids Who Said “Never Again”

Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

Book review: Midnight in Chernobyl, by Adam Higginbotham (Amazon / Book Depository) Senior Lieutenant Alexander Logachev loved radiation the way other men loved their wives. So begins Adam Higginbotham’s exhaustive account of the April 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recounting a blow-by-blow of the unfolding incident and the monumental effects of the aftermath, amidst the context of Soviet politics and the USSR’s place on the world stage. … Continue reading Disaster and After: A Chernobyl Deep Dive

Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think

Book review: If Only They Didn’t Speak English, by Jon Sopel (Amazon / Book Depository) BBC journalist Jon Sopel, the network’s North America editor, writes about US history, politics, culture and personal impressions through a UK-US comparative lens while working in both Obama’s and Trump’s America. Sopel got called out by Trump at a press conference in early 2017 while asking a question about the … Continue reading Divided By a Common Language, More So Than We Think