Thoroughly researched and written with passion—and a bit of bite.



A rich chronicle of craft in America from Jamestown to the present day.

In his latest book on craft, historian and curator Adamson displays his vast knowledge of crafts, artisans, and political and business figures who have helped or hindered craft’s advancement. He notes the evolution from craft-as-survival to its current status as a much smaller—but significant—part of our overall economy. He also sees its potential as a way to begin to reunite a divided country. (The author has a couple of harsh comments for Donald Trump, at one point calling him a “farcical blowhard.”) Adamson leads us on a chronological journey through American history, pointing out along the way—sometimes in lush detail—the various craft movements and ideas that were prominent at certain times. The text swarms with interesting anecdotes and names—some well-known (Benjamin Franklin, Henry David Thoreau, Martha Stewart) and others who will be less familiar to most readers: James Pembroke, the first Black man to attend classes at Yale; Candace Wheeler, one of America’s first interior designers, who “realized what many of her fellow craft reformers did not: that beauty and practicality did not always go together, and were often in conflict”; and Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts. Throughout the narrative, the author displays a sensible sensitivity to various cultural, racial, and gender issues that remain with us—from the brutal treatment of Native peoples and African Americans to the denial of equal labor rights (and salaries) to women. Adamson also corrects some myths, noting that there’s no real evidence that Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag: “The thing everyone knows about her…turns out to be uncertain at best, and perhaps an invention from whole cloth, put about by over-enthusiastic descendants.” The author offers welcome details about such topics as repressive schools for American Indians (e.g., Carlisle Indian School) and Rosie the Riveter.

Thoroughly researched and written with passion—and a bit of bite.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-458-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2020

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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 solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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