A startling depiction of an Indigenous people struggling to remain true to their traditions. Yet another triumph for Sacco.

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PAYING THE LAND

An epic graphic study of an Indigenous people trying to survive between tradition and so-called progress.

Eisner Award winner Sacco’s Palestine (2001) and Footnotes in Gaza (2009) are classics of contemporary graphic journalism. This is his first book since the stunning The Great War: July 1, 1916 (2013), and it’s well worth the wait. The author and illustrator spent six weeks reporting with the Dene people, a native society with deep roots in the Mackenzie River Valley in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Partly oral history and partly a compassionate portrait, the narrative recounts the people’s transition from a culture that respected and lived off the land to one faced with challenges that threaten to erase the fundamentals of their culture. Sacco portrays the Dene’s old ways with his extraordinary illustrations, vividly showing how they once lived. The title comes from citizen Frederick Andrew’s memories from his youth. “You give it something,” he says. “A bullet, perhaps, water, tobacco or tea. It’s like visiting someone. You bring the land a gift.” Many readers will be distressed by the many indignities that modern society has visited upon the Dene people. The recent phenomenon of fracking creates division between those who see economic opportunities and those who believe the practice is a defilement of their land. Sacco also portrays in stark relief the pervasiveness of problems stemming from substance abuse. Another theme involves the arrival of the first airplane, the signal that Canada intended to remove Dene children to residential schools that “were essentially used as a weapon for assimilation and acculturation and Christianization.” The children also suffered horrific abuse from both teachers and other students. Part of what makes Sacco’s portrayal so masterful is his proficiency as a journalist; he uses the real words of Dene citizens to tell their stories, augmenting them with his extraordinary artistic insight.

A startling depiction of an Indigenous people struggling to remain true to their traditions. Yet another triumph for Sacco.

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62779-903-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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