by Jessica Garrison ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 4, 2020
An urgent, highly readable work of crime swiftly committed and justice long delayed.
Most contract killers view their acts as a job. BuzzFeed News West Coast investigations editor Garrison portrays one who took pleasure from murder.
Jose Manuel Martinez killed nearly 40 people in a 30-year period, sometimes for pay, sometimes simply because, in one case, someone parked in his driveway. He was finally convicted in three different states, but it took the police more than three decades to catch up to him even though they suspected him. There were a couple of reasons for the lag; Martinez claimed it was because he was “so damn good,” but Garrison has a different take: Of the Golden State Killer, who killed mostly white women, some 2,800 stories were written, whereas in the case of Martinez, “there were fewer than fifty.” The author ventures that Martinez, whose victims were mostly Mexican Americans and immigrants presumed to live in crime-ridden places with no advocates in law enforcement, “had found an ideal place to ply his trade” in California’s impoverished Central Valley. Garrison constructs a horrifying portrait of a man who began to kill when a relative was raped and murdered, found he was good at it, and made it a profession alongside drug-dealing and other crimes. The police caught up with him time and time again but could never make the charges stick beyond short sentences—as when he killed “a rat” and failed a lie-detector test on the matter but soon walked away because polygraphs aren’t admissible evidence in California courts. Garrison’s story involves a lot of personal back and forth with the now-imprisoned Martinez, who called her during his Florida trial to ask, “What is a sociopath?” “When I told him it referred to someone who had no conscience and lived outside the rules of society,” she writes, “he responded, ‘Huh,’ as if he wasn’t quite sure what to make of that.”An urgent, highly readable work of crime swiftly committed and justice long delayed.
Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Winner
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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