A stellar—and often shocking—report on a broken criminal justice system.



A prominent defense and civil rights lawyer indicts the criminal justice system as he recalls his work with clients such as Michael Peterson, the novelist who inspired the Netflix series The Staircase.

Rudolf once helped to negotiate a $9 million civil settlement for a man who had been held without a trial for 14 years on the basis of a “confession” so articulate it might have come from an English professor although the prisoner had an IQ of less than 60. That story is far from the most startling in this potent critique of systemic errors and misconduct by police and prosecutors that have led to wrongful convictions nationwide, many in North Carolina, where the author practices law and racial biases have long plagued the justice system. With keen moral force backed by clear and persuasive examples from his work or that of groups such as the Innocence Project, Rudolf shows how mental, physical, or legal influences can subvert justice. Police corruption is only one. Psychological factors like confirmation bias can cause police to trust their “intuition” about a suspect in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Misunderstandings about the limits of forensic science can result in overvaluing fingerprint or other “pattern-based” evidence. Even well-meaning efforts like Crime Stoppers hotlines can taint trials by tempting people to lie for rewards. An overarching problem is that jury trials in federal criminal cases are “essentially extinct,” with 97% of cases resolved by plea. Consequently, a defense lawyer’s job is “primarily to explain to the defendant the incredible cost of being convicted after a trial and the great benefit of pleading guilty as soon as possible”—even if they are innocent. For readers seeking to top up their outrage about abuses in criminal justice, this book makes a fine companion to Bryan Stephenson’s Just Mercy and Emily Bazelon’s Charged.

A stellar—and often shocking—report on a broken criminal justice system.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-299735-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.


The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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