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

Genesis of the “Mindhunter”

Book review: Mindhunter, by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Amazon / Book Depository) It isn’t always easy, and it’s never pleasant, putting yourself in these guys’ shoes —or inside their minds. But that’s what my people and I have to do. We have to try to feel what it was like for each one. When I mentioned FBI profiler John Douglas’s upcoming book with his … Continue reading Genesis of the “Mindhunter”

An Investigator Spills on America’s Tabloid-Favorite Unsolved Murder

Book review: Foreign Faction, by A. James Kolar (Amazon| Book Depository| Publisher’s site to support the author directly) Burke Ramsey recently settled his $750 million defamation lawsuit against CBS and producers of the 2016 docuseries The Case of: JonBenet Ramsey, wherein featured experts and investigators announced their conclusion that he allegedly was his sister’s murderer. The series explores and attempts to resolve the ambiguities around the 1996 Christmas night … Continue reading An Investigator Spills on America’s Tabloid-Favorite Unsolved Murder

How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

Book review: The Eating Instinct, by Virginia Sole-Smith Book Depository Nutrition has become a permanently unsolvable Rubik’s Cube. So we read more books, pin more blog posts, buy more products, and sign up for more classes and consultations. And we don’t realize how many of the so-called experts guiding us through this new and constantly changing landscape are … fighting their own battles with food. … Continue reading How the Instinct to Eat Can Go Wrong: Personal Stories of Food Anxieties

The Pseudoscience of Personality Typing and its Eccentric Mother-Daughter Developers

Book review: The Personality Brokers, by Merve Emre (Amazon / Book Depository) Only the smallest fraction of those who encountered the indicator knew anything about Isabel, Katharine, or the origins of type. If asked about the indicator’s provenance, most people would have assumed that Myers and Briggs were the last names of two collaborating psychologists – two men, naturally… Almost everyone’s familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality … Continue reading The Pseudoscience of Personality Typing and its Eccentric Mother-Daughter Developers

An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger

Book review: The Vienna Woods Killer, by John Leake John Leake, an American writer who lived nearly a decade in Vienna, wrote this definitive account of Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger. Unterweger’s is quite the interesting story, not least because the crime of serial murder is far from common in Austria. Combined with his background of alleged rehabilitation and crime spree across Austria and internationally, … Continue reading An Austrian Serial Killer: The Strange Story of “Rehabilitated” Murderer Jack Unterweger