A welcome resurrection of a forgotten riot with relevance for our current fragmented political landscape.




An account of a mostly forgotten 1970 altercation between New York City construction workers and citizens protesting the continuing war in Southeast Asia.

The majority of the violence occurred on May 8, 1970, four days after the Kent State tragedy. Kuhn, who has written for Politico, RealClearPolitics, and CBS News, among other outlets, explains how the tension had been building for several years—and on a variety of fronts. In addition to regular protests around the country, these included the campus of Columbia University, the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, the 1969 Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam, and, perhaps most significantly, within the rhetoric of Richard Nixon, both as a candidate and as president. For a few chapters, Kuhn foreshadows the violence committed by the construction workers while providing educated suppositions about why the NYPD seemed mostly unprepared to protect the protesters exercising their First Amendment rights. The graphic accounts of the violence occupy more than 80 pages, a section that ends chillingly: “The reporter asked Tallman, Would you hurt demonstrators again? ‘You bet. If they come back here Monday, we’ll give them the chase of their lives.’ ‘We’ll kill them,’ his friend added.” The author focuses not only on the construction workers, protesters, and police, but also NYC Mayor John Lindsay, who noted on the morning of May 8 that the hard hats were “out for blood today.” As Kuhn shows, Lindsay, a Republican who, two years later, “was the most liberal candidate in the Democratic race,” failed to fully grasp the combustible nature of the conflicting actors. Throughout the narrative, the author wrestles with conflicting ideologies of patriotism, especially as symbolized by the American flag. In a trenchant epilogue, Kuhn connects dots from the events of that summer to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, and Donald Trump.

A welcome resurrection of a forgotten riot with relevance for our current fragmented political landscape. (b/w photos)

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-006471-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.


An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.


Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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