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The journalist is Joe McGinniss. The murderer is Jeffrey MacDonald, subject of McGinniss' best-selling Fatal Vision, The relationship between the two is the paradigm for Malcolm's stinging indictment of all journalists' relationships to their subjects—an indictment that created a furor when published last year in the New Yorker, and which is here reprinted in full, with a new, slippery afterword by Malcolm. Malcolm flings the gauntlet: "Every journalist. . .knows that what he does is morally indefensible." Why? Because "he is a kind of confidence man, preying on people's vanity, ignorance, or loneliness, gaining their trust and betraying them without remorse." Case in point: McGinniss' alleged con of MacDonald. MacDonald claimed in a 1984 lawsuit that McGinniss had committed fraud and breach of contract by leading him to believe, through letters of support and years of friendship, that Fatal Vision would proclaim MacDonald's innocence, while instead the book portrayed him as a guilty psychopath. Malcolm diligently sifts through the lawsuit—including trial testimony by Joseph Wambaugh and William Buckley that defended a journalist's right to mislead a subject in order to get a story—and follows up with interviews with the lawyers, with expert witnesses, and with MacDonald (after initial contact, McGinniss broke off all ties to Malcolm). The jury favored MacDonald 5-1; McGinniss finally paid a six-figure out-of-court settlement to him. Malcolm sides with the jury, finding in her own relationships with her subjects, particularly MacDonald, reflections of the case's moral conundrums; in her afterword, she comments bitingly on criticisms of that finding, but glibly sidesteps charges that she had been inspired, at least in part, by her own—conveniently unmentioned—suffering by lawsuits directed at her by psychologist Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, subject of her book In the Freud Archives (1984). Strident in tone, overbearing in conclusion; but of major interest and importance for exposing profound ethical questions that before now have festered behind the stony shield of journalistic privilege.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 1990

ISBN: 0679731830

Page Count: 180

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1990

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Proves without a doubt that even masters of the universe sometimes lose their heads, and then their shirts.

Knowing inside account of the major media conglomerates’ efforts to embrace and profit from the ’90s boom.

As the New York Post’s first computer/Internet columnist, Motavalli had a ringside seat while Disney, Time Warner, News Corp., and others tripped over themselves to get on board the emerging Internet phenomenon. With little certainty about what the successful and manageable applications of the World Wide Web would be, media corporations and their leaders nonetheless rushed to spend hundreds of millions of dollars so as not to get left behind. They helped create the bubble of inflated salaries and unlimited expectations that burst so mercilessly in 2000–01. Motavalli, who admits being swept up like everyone else in the initial euphoria, narrates with an intimate feel for the year-by-year developments: the promises and glorious optimism of a dawning technological age, the maneuvering moguls and CEOs, the media executives who doubled their income by switching to the start-ups, and the chilling reality bath that awaited all. AOL’s Steve Case, Time Warner’s Bob Pittman and Gerald Levin, John F. Kennedy Jr. of George, Time magazine’s Walter Isaacson, and iVillage’s Candace Carpenter are among the many prime movers whose trajectories are analyzed here. Some big winners emerge (AOL, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo), but more common is the fate of one Internet-related stock that fell from $150 to just $3 per share. Motavalli sees this not solely as a tale of greed and ambition run wild, but a telling parable of the herd mentality; when it appears the wheel has been reinvented, everyone wants to go along for the ride, even though the ultimate destination is unknown. Well-researched and dense with names, dates, meetings, and numbers, the author’s recollections may provide more information than most will be willing to download, but he convincingly captures the boardroom machinations of this extraordinary era.

Proves without a doubt that even masters of the universe sometimes lose their heads, and then their shirts.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2002

ISBN: 0-670-89980-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2002

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This factual account of the Battle of the Alamo brings more vigorous personalities to life and effects more dramatic contrasts than many of its fictional competitors. Not only does Robert Penn Warren delineate battle strategies; he clarifies the ambitions and personal histories of the adversaries who met at Bexar and lays bare the stakes for which the battle was fought. The claims and crises of both Mexico and of the American settlers, desperadoes, and outlaws who lived in the no-man's-land state are dissected. Texas, hoping for equal rights in the new Mexico, after Spanish dominion was ousted, was settled 4-1 by ex-Americans. Then American immigration was halted by law — bringing to an end hopes of prosperity. And the rise of dictator Santa Anna meant an end to hopes for impartial jurisprudence. Boys and girls with any appetite for historical information will endorse this.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 1958

ISBN: 1596872616

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1958

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