Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

Book review: Stalin’s Daughter, by Rosemary Sullivan “What would it mean to be born Stalin’s daughter, to carry the weight of that name for a lifetime and never be free of it?” “I want to explain to you, he broke my life.” Even writing a biography showing the many sides of Svetlana Alliluyeva often ignored by media, multiple governments, and history, Rosemary Sullivan didn’t have … Continue reading Svetlana, In and Out of Stalin’s Shadow

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

Jon Ronson Double Feature: “Them” and its Could-Be Addendum, “The Elephant in the Room”

Book review: Them and The Elephant in the Room, by Jon Ronson This book began its life in 1995 as a series of profiles of extremist leaders, but it quickly became something stranger. My plan had been to spend time with those people who had been described as the extremist monsters of the Western world – Islamic fundamentalists, neo-Nazis, etc. I wanted to join them as they went about … Continue reading Jon Ronson Double Feature: “Them” and its Could-Be Addendum, “The Elephant in the Room”

Into the Heart of Texas

Book review: God Save Texas, by Lawrence Wright By the time I graduated from high school, I was sick of Texas. I did everything I could to cleanse myself of its influence…I’ve seen the same thing happen to people who come from other societies with a strong cultural imprint; they reverse the image. But being the opposite of what you were is not the same … Continue reading Into the Heart of Texas

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

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

A Darkly Funny, Sweet Coming-of-Age Story Between Two Countries

Book review: Miss Ex-Yugoslavia, by Sofija Stefanovic My mother said, “just imagine this situation we’re in is a massive black cloud falling from the sky, and be like a net. Allow it to pass through you.” I pictured a net through which a black cloud is squeezed, dispersing into many pieces; I imagined holding my breath as it passed, careful not to catch the noxious … Continue reading A Darkly Funny, Sweet Coming-of-Age Story Between Two Countries

Walking a Mile in the Shoes of Chinese Immigrants in Queens

Book review: Patriot Number One, by Lauren Hilgers Journalist Lauren Hilgers was somewhat surprised when an acquaintance from her years spent working in Shanghai showed up on her Brooklyn doorstep one evening. The man, Zhuang Lehong, was a Chinese activist-labeled-dissident who had traveled to the United States with his wife, Little Yan, planning to seek asylum. Hilgers profiled their experience in the asylum process while … Continue reading Walking a Mile in the Shoes of Chinese Immigrants in Queens

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