A readable and highly provocative addition to a furious debate.

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EXECUTING JUSTICE

AN INSIDE ACCOUNT OF THE CASE OF MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

An insider’s account of one of the most controversial legal proceedings in modern American history.

Just before 4:00 a.m. on the morning of December 9, 1981, Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner was shot and killed after having made a traffic stop. When other officers arrived on the scene, they found the well-known radical African-American journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal sitting on a curb next to the apparent murder weapon. Although he denied the crime, Mumia was brought to trial and convicted. His attorneys appealed, arguing that the first trial did not consider key evidence that would have proved his innocence. That appeal was unsuccessful, and Mumia has lived on Death Row for the past 18 years. First-time author Williams, a gifted writer and chronicler as well as an evidently capable attorney, joined Mumia’s defense team a decade ago and has since led the effort to secure his client a retrial. The basis for that demand is multifaceted, and Williams explores each reason in considerable but never tedious detail. He asserts, for instance, that the lack of pathology reports in the original trial compromised Mumia’s defense, and that the government’s witnesses were a dodgy and eminently impeachable lot (one eyewitness, for example, was a prostitute who may have escaped arrest by testifying as police investigators wanted her to). More than arguing for Mumia’s innocence against what he admits is strong evidence to the contrary (and even dismissing as absurd some arguments as to why Mumia could not have committed the crime), Williams considers the trial in the light of a long history of injustices against African-Americans in Philadelphia, and especially against those African-Americans who, like Mumia, have publicly denounced police and judicial corruption. The trial, he concludes, points to the profound divisions along lines of race and class that trouble American society—and to the selective nature of justice that obtains here.

A readable and highly provocative addition to a furious debate.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-312-27666-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2001

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

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BECOMING

The former first lady opens up about her early life, her journey to the White House, and the eight history-making years that followed.

It’s not surprising that Obama grew up a rambunctious kid with a stubborn streak and an “I’ll show you” attitude. After all, it takes a special kind of moxie to survive being the first African-American FLOTUS—and not only survive, but thrive. For eight years, we witnessed the adversity the first family had to face, and now we get to read what it was really like growing up in a working-class family on Chicago’s South Side and ending up at the world’s most famous address. As the author amply shows, her can-do attitude was daunted at times by racism, leaving her wondering if she was good enough. Nevertheless, she persisted, graduating from Chicago’s first magnet high school, Princeton, and Harvard Law School, and pursuing careers in law and the nonprofit world. With her characteristic candor and dry wit, she recounts the story of her fateful meeting with her future husband. Once they were officially a couple, her feelings for him turned into a “toppling blast of lust, gratitude, fulfillment, wonder.” But for someone with a “natural resistance to chaos,” being the wife of an ambitious politician was no small feat, and becoming a mother along the way added another layer of complexity. Throw a presidential campaign into the mix, and even the most assured woman could begin to crack under the pressure. Later, adjusting to life in the White House was a formidable challenge for the self-described “control freak”—not to mention the difficulty of sparing their daughters the ugly side of politics and preserving their privacy as much as possible. Through it all, Obama remained determined to serve with grace and help others through initiatives like the White House garden and her campaign to fight childhood obesity. And even though she deems herself “not a political person,” she shares frank thoughts about the 2016 election.

An engrossing memoir as well as a lively treatise on what extraordinary grace under extraordinary pressure looks like.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6313-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2018

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