THE VIOLENCE PROJECT

HOW TO STOP A MASS SHOOTING EPIDEMIC

A distressing, critical study in the understanding, processing, and prevention of mass-casualty gun violence.

A report on a unique nonpartisan, nonprofit research center working to stem the tide of mass shootings in America.    

Peterson and Densley, both professors of criminology, intensively survey the effects of gun violence via the data-driven prevention group called the Violence Project. In 2018, the authors, who co-founded the project, began anonymously interviewing incarcerated individuals in an effort to illuminate their life histories. Early on, five felons agreed to participate in the uncompensated project, which then expanded outward in interviews with their former and current spouses, family, friends, co-workers, and survivors. Using these interactions, Peterson and Densley sought to garner a more well-rounded perspective of who the shooter is or was and how their personal history shaped them. The result is a bracing compilation of mass shooter profiles and first-person accounts from violent criminals, beginning with the Parkland shooter’s emotional breakdown as he apologized to his brother. This sequence sets the tone for the remaining perpetrators, who are chillingly yet humanely profiled in a multifaceted study that is alternately horrifying, depressing, and even hopeful. The U.S., write the authors “is a lonely island when it comes to mass shootings,” mainly due to the country’s love affair with guns and unrelenting, often misguided, protection of the Second Amendment. (One shooter interviewed not only names the guns in his arsenal; he sleeps with them.) Chronicling the lives of a variety of perpetrators, from mentally distressed school shooters to rampaging extremists, the authors identify many shared attributes and experiences, including childhood trauma, anger, loneliness, societal stressors, and suicidal ideation. Many of these factors serve as propellants for terrible acts of violence, but, as the authors argue convincingly, they also can become integral parts in “unlocking solutions” for personal crisis and trauma intervention across individual, institutional, and societal levels. The authors conclude with holistic, interventional, and tangible strategies for reducing violence in contemporary society.

A distressing, critical study in the understanding, processing, and prevention of mass-casualty gun violence.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-5295-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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