A fearless takedown of a major American institution.

IT NEVER HAPPENED

FBI NEGLIGENCE AND DUPLICITY REVEALED FROM THE INSIDE OUT

A former FBI agent tells of her traumatic experiences while working for the bureau. 

Debut author Van Driel joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1983 with a mixture of excitement and awe, driven by a sense of adventure and patriotic ardor. However, she says that she encountered rampant unprofessionalism, unabashed misogyny, and an unsettling lack of moral gravity at the training academy in Quantico, Virginia. She writes that her peers warned her that she should never be alone with the academy director; according to them, he was a well-known predator of female trainees. On her graduation day, Van Driel says, she was sexually assaulted by one of her firearms instructors. She describes her first training agent as a “swaggering misogynist” who recommended that she quit and find a husband; her male colleagues, she says, repeatedly propositioned her and sexually assaulted her, confident that they would never face departmental discipline. At one point, the author remembers that her Russian language instructor offered to heal a blemish on her face with his semen. Van Driel offers a scathing critique of the bureau that effectively portrays an atmosphere of lethargic shiftlessness, with agents routinely coming and going as they pleased, shirking their duties, falsifying work records, and inflating expense reports. While serving in the New York office, Van Driel’s supervisor was Robert Hanssen, who later became infamous for traitorous behavior. She chillingly relates why she finally resigned: “I had a growing feeling that any danger that would befall me, particularly at the hands of my fellow agents, would never be addressed appropriately. For the first time, I didn’t feel safe.” The author’s moral condemnation of amateurish incompetence is powerful, as is her account of what she describes as the FBI’s entrenched sexism. Van Driel’s prose is full of emotion at times, but it mostly maintains a tone of cool, analytical objectivity, making her indictments all the more persuasive. Indeed, this is a rare exposé in that there’s no shortage of bombshell revelations but not a hint of sensationalism. 

A fearless takedown of a major American institution. 

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73253-941-9

Page Count: 158

Publisher: FravanLithoPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Erudite writing from an author struggling to find meaning through music.

THEY CAN'T KILL US UNTIL THEY KILL US

An Ohio-based poet, columnist, and music critic takes the pulse of the nation while absorbing some of today’s most eclectic beats.

At first glance, discovering deep meaning in the performance of top-40 songstress Carly Rae Jepsen might seem like a tough assignment. However, Abdurraqib (The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, 2016) does more than just manage it; he dives in fully, uncovering aspects of love and adoration that are as illuminating and earnest as they are powerful and profound. If he can do that with Jepsen's pop, imagine what the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Prince, or Nina Simone might stir in him. But as iconic as those artists may be, the subjects found in these essays often serve to invoke deeper forays into the worlds surrounding the artists as much as the artists themselves. Although the author is interested in the success and appeal of The Weeknd or Chance the Rapper, he is also equally—if not more—intrigued with the sociopolitical and existential issues that they each managed to evoke in present-day America. In witnessing Zoe Saldana’s 2016 portrayal of Simone, for instance, Abdurraqib thinks back to his own childhood playing on the floor of his family home absorbing the powerful emotions caused by his mother’s 1964 recording of “Nina Simone in Concert”—and remembering the relentlessly stigmatized soul who, unlike Saldana, could not wash off her blackness at the end of the day. In listening to Springsteen, the author is reminded of the death of Michael Brown and how “the idea of hard, beautiful, romantic work is a dream sold a lot easier by someone who currently knows where their next meal is coming from.” In all of Abdurraqib’s poetic essays, there is the artist, the work, the nation, and himself. The author effortlessly navigates among these many points before ultimately arriving at conclusions that are sometimes hopeful, often sorrowful, and always visceral.

Erudite writing from an author struggling to find meaning through music.

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-937512-65-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Two Dollar Radio

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more