An eyebrow-raising book that, among other things, helps connect some of the dots of the Mueller Report.

Carefully detailed account of the rise of Vladimir Putin and the restoration of Russia to Soviet-era power.

A Reuters correspondent and former Moscow bureau chief for the Financial Times, Belton recalls a time, 25-odd years ago, when it seemed possible that Russia might become a democracy with a thriving economy. Then came the era of the oligarchs, who, protected by Boris Yeltsin, cornered big pieces of the newly open market economy. It didn’t last long. As Putin rose to power, he proceeded to “rein in the market freedoms of the Yeltsin era, and to launch a takeover by the state.” That project involved neutralizing enemies—and then, writes Belton, turning on former allies, a process Americans have seen in the actions of the Trump administration. By the author’s account, Trump’s fortunes are bound up in Putin’s, and both represent what one Putin associate exalts as a defeat of “the neocons who thought they controlled the whole world.” According to Belton, while the extent of the connection will likely never be known, Trump has been the beneficiary of Russian cash since at least 1990, when Russian banks floated funds to extract his organization from bankruptcy. One Russian executive has claimed that Trump has received hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian funders who will likely never see the money again, all in the interest of providing “an opportunity to further compromise the future president” and, as a larger goal, “to undermine and corrupt the institutions and democracies of the West.” All that, of course, is straight out of the KGB playbook as enacted by Putin’s lieutenants around the world, with the state’s extensive financial resources at their disposal. Much of Belton’s story has been related in earlier books, but none with so specific a focus on those shadowy aides and their actions.

An eyebrow-raising book that, among other things, helps connect some of the dots of the Mueller Report.

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-374-23871-1

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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