Outstanding natural history writing.

A fascinating exploration of deer.

“Deer are the largest wild animals we still live with in any widespread way, one of the signal species of our time, as firmly established in our cities as in our national parks,” writes journalist Howsare. They are definitely not tame, but it’s a fallacy that they prefer untouched wilderness. Human-logged forests with plenty of brush provide lots of food, as do abandoned farms, cuts under power lines, and suburban neighborhoods. In parallel with bison, they were driven nearly to extinction by hunters after the arrival of European settlers. During their low point in the early 1900s, they survived in isolated pockets, but conservation and restocking supercharged them into a spectacular wildlife restoration success story—so much so that they began to wreak havoc on farms, parks, and gardens. Cars kill hundreds of thousands of deer per year, with several hundred humans dying in the collisions. What is to be done? Howsare offers no solutions but delivers entertaining accounts of the efforts. Today’s “deer management” is the job of state wildlife agencies, who use recreational hunters as their essential tool. Yet hunters want bigger herds and prefer killing bucks to does. Because “most hunters take zero to two deer per year,” they can never reduce the population, and reintroducing wolves, bears, and other predators, even in national parks, produces fierce opposition from neighboring ranchers. Mass killing (“culling”), although popular to eliminate snakes, feral pigs, and even coyotes, produces almost universal outrage. Howsare is not a hunter, but she is evenhanded, agreeing that to eat meat and oppose killing animals doesn’t make sense. She delivers sympathetic portraits of her brother, an avid hunter, and of hunting ranches, largely denounced by the hunting establishment, where customers pay a small fortune to shoot deer and other wildlife.

Outstanding natural history writing.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781646221349

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Catapult

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.

A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781668028285

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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