An Exposé of America’s Low-Wage Workplaces

Book review: On the Clock, by Emily Guendelsberger (Amazon / Book Depository) When the newspaper she worked for closed in 2015, journalist Emily Guendelsberger used the opportunity to pursue a project she’d long been interested in. Over the next two years she worked in some of America’s common, controversial low-wage jobs to see what conditions were like, how they affected workers physically and psychologically, and … Continue reading An Exposé of America’s Low-Wage Workplaces

Nonfiction Classic on Making Fear Work For You

Book review: The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker (Amazon / Book Depository) Do not listen to the TV news checklist of what to do, or the magazine article’s checklist of what to do, or the story about what your friend did. Listen to the wisdom that comes from having heard it all by listening to yourself. Someone recommended this book to me probably … Continue reading Nonfiction Classic on Making Fear Work For You

“Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

Book review: The Killer Across the Table, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) This is a book about the way violent predators think – the bedrock of my twenty-five years as an FBI special agent, behavioral profiler, and criminal investigative analyst, as well as the work I have done since my retirement from the bureau. John Douglas hardly needs an introduction, … Continue reading “Mindhunter” John Douglas Breaks Down Behavior and Psychology in Four Profiles

Investigating the Extreme of Psychopathy

Book review: The Psychopath Test, by Jon Ronson (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Jon Ronson’s “journey through the madness industry” begins with a stressful situation in parallel with a mystery dropped in his lap: First, he’s tapped to use his journalistic prowess to trace a book that’s been sent to prominent academics around the world without a clear source or reason. This project materializes at … Continue reading Investigating the Extreme of Psychopathy

The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Book review: Brain on Fire, by Susannah Cahalan (Amazon / Book Depository) The mind is like a circuit of Christmas tree lights. When the brain works well, all of the lights twinkle brilliantly, and it’s adaptable enough that, often, even if one bulb goes out, the rest will still shine on. But depending on where the damage is, sometimes that one blown bulb can make … Continue reading The Inflamed Brain and The Unreliable Narrator

Behaviorally Profiling the Ones That Got Away

Book review: The Cases That Haunt Us, by John Douglas & Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) Each of the cases we’ll be examining in this book has remained extremely controversial. And each of these cases contains some universal truth at its base to which we can all relate. Taken together, they present a panorama of human behavior under extreme stress and an inevitable commentary … Continue reading Behaviorally Profiling the Ones That Got Away

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

Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

Book review: Kitty Genovese, by Catherine Pelonero (Amazon / Book Depository) It was the location, many later said, that gave a heightened sense of horror to what happened. In the early morning of March 1964 in Kew Gardens, a quiet residential district of Queens, considered “idyllic” by New York City standards, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was murdered on her way home from work in … Continue reading Myth and Truth in Kitty Genovese’s Story

Lawrence Wright’s Look at the Satanic Panic

Book review: Remembering Satan, by Lawrence Wright (Amazon / Book Depository) Journalist Lawrence Wright is one of my favorite nonsense-busters. It just doesn’t get past him. And his books are so well-written that even when they’re dealing with the eye-rolling (but also very sad) “Satanic Panic” of the late 80s/90s, they’re meticulous and brilliantly laid out. If there’s anyone who can take a kooky cult … Continue reading Lawrence Wright’s Look at the Satanic Panic

Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

Book review: Survival Math, by Mitchell S. Jackson (Amazon / Book Depository) Sirens scream (for who else in the world but you?) in the distance. In a prose style unlike any I’ve encountered before, Mitchell S. Jackson, novelist and writing instructor at New York and Columbia Universities, writes a memoir of his life and tumultuous upbringing in Portland, Oregon. His story is interwoven with those … Continue reading Family, Race, Violence, and the Calculations Made to Survive

Interviewing and Analyzing Bundy

Book review: The Only Living Witness, by Stephen G. Michaud & Hugh Aynesworth (Amazon / Book Depository) Despite aggressively unappealing covers, I was motivated to read this after watching the recent Netflix docuseries Conversations with a Killer. The authors behind the book serving as the docuseries’ basis wrote this, too. I wasn’t sure I wanted to read a book centered only around the interviews, but more about … Continue reading Interviewing and Analyzing Bundy

Shame in the Age of Social Media: Jon Ronson Investigates

Book review: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, by Jon Ronson (Amazon / Book Depository) It seemed to me that everybody involved in the Hank and Adria story thought they were doing something good. But really they only revealed that our imagination is so limited, our arsenal of potential responses so narrow, the only thing anyone can think to do with an inappropriate shamer like Adria … Continue reading Shame in the Age of Social Media: Jon Ronson Investigates