A trenchant analysis of how flawed notions about credibility fuel a wide variety of societal inequalities.



A legal scholar grapples with the ways in which race, class, and gender affect a sexual assault victim’s credibility—and their ability to access justice. Credibility—or the tendency to be believed—is a form of power meted out entirely unfairly. So argues Tuerkheimer, who coins the phrase “credibility complex,” which she defines as “a cluster of forces” that lead us to believe some individuals over others. She argues that culture and the law intertwine to give women “credibility discounts” and men credibility “inflation.” Socially ingrained discounts not only make it harder for women to win abuse cases in courts of law; it also makes them doubt their own credibility, leading to a nationwide hesitation to file claims. “At its most covert,” writes the author, “the credibility complex leads victims to elevate the perspectives and interests of their abuser above their own.” This means that victims, and others involved in the process, often give abusers “the benefit of the doubt.” The tendency to doubt women is particularly hard on women of color—especially Black women—and women who identify as working class. Tuerkheimer cogently argues that until we examine and address these deep-seated biases, our society will ensure that we never treat sexual assault survivors with the gravity and care they deserve. The book’s analysis is both layered and nuanced, and the language is precise, passionate, and clear. While the author provides detailed explorations of the effects of race and class on sexual assault claims, she offers little acknowledgment of the impacts of disability or queerness on credibility. Particularly glaring is the absence of examples involving trans women, who suffer much higher rates of sexual assault and violence than their cisgendered peers. Still, this book is an important addition to an ongoing conversation. A trenchant analysis of how flawed notions about credibility fuel a wide variety of societal inequalities.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-300274-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper Wave

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.


The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

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The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: today

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