A gripping David-vs.-Goliath story that remains suspenseful to the final page.



A novelist and trial attorney tells the true story of North Carolina landowners who fought for justice from a multinational corporation over the deleterious practices of large-scale hog farming.

Addison begins his absorbing and inspiring narrative with a group of landowners, mostly Black, who worked small plots of farmland in eastern North Carolina. Then neighboring farmers began to build massive hog farms, contracting to raise hogs owned by firms acquired by the Chinese-owned behemoth Smithfield Foods, “the kingpin of East Coast meatpacking.” In this page-turning exposé of corporate malfeasance, the author paints a vivid picture of four counties, 5 million hogs, and a hog density “higher than any other place on earth.” The animals are raised in abysmal conditions on farms that disperse massive amounts of noxious waste into the water (through leaky waste lagoons) and air (waste sprayed onto empty fields). The toxin- and bacteria-laden waste and the unbearable smell penetrate everything. Meanwhile, the “hog barons” live far from the stench. After they had exhausted regulatory and political remedies, the landowners retained a small but potent law firm to sue for damages, setting in motion a lengthy legal battle pitting small landowners and their lawyers, scientists, and activists against industry executives, their attorneys, fearful locals, and politicians in Smithfield’s pocket. Though Addison tints his portrayals of the plaintiffs and their lawyers with a heroic glow, he makes a persuasive case that their advocacy took enormous courage. The atmosphere of threat is palpable throughout the book, as the lawyers and their clients are surveilled and threatened. The author clearly explains the legal strategies involved, and he has a good feel for Southern society and the “historical, entrenched, pestilential prejudice” that still warps it. The book reads like a thriller (John Grisham provides the foreword) and strikingly underscores why American courts are so often a last resort for those wronged by structural economic injustice.

A gripping David-vs.-Goliath story that remains suspenseful to the final page.

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-32082-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist


A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?