A courageous advocate for journalistic and democratic integrity strikes again.

SECURING DEMOCRACY

MY FIGHT FOR PRESS FREEDOM AND JUSTICE IN BOLSONARO’S BRAZIL

In his latest explosive exposé, Greenwald turns to his adopted Brazil and the corrupt machinations of its highest leaders.

Having lived there since 2005 with his Brazilian partner and husband, David, a politician, and two adopted children, the American-born author has been deeply ensconced in the life of his adopted country for years. In 2018, they were alarmed by the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president, a process that was markedly similar to the aggressive nationalist trends that carried Donald Trump into office in the U.S. Like Trump, Bolsonaro, along with many of his elected officials, openly expressed authoritarian, anti-democratic, pro-military, anti–LGBTQ+ rhetoric. Contacted on Mother’s Day 2019 by an anonymous Brazilian hacker then living in the U.S. who targeted Greenwald because of his involvement in the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks, the author agreed to receive reams of files that revealed years of corruption by state and national figures. Making sense of the files, Greenwald uncovered a vast web of corruption that was integral in getting Bolsonaro and his party elected by eliminating the opposition—namely, former two-term president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, the center-left political leader of the Workers’ Party. Greenwald published articles on the hacks in June 2019, helping to vindicate Lula, but he was met with a violent backlash by Bolsonaro and his thuggish establishment. Nonetheless, he was undeterred. “I believe we righted wrongs, reversed injustices, and exposed grave corruption,” he writes. “In many ways, I regard the dangers and threats we faced as vindication that we fulfilled our core function as journalists: to unflinchingly confront those who wield power with transparency, accountability, and truth.” Though some of the details may not be as revelatory to American readers as those involving Snowden and the National Security Agency, this is still a fascinating portrait of the importance of journalism in today’s tumultuous political world.

A courageous advocate for journalistic and democratic integrity strikes again.

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64259-450-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Haymarket Books

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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

HUMANS

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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