Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy.

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BONNIE AND CLYDE

THE MAKING OF A LEGEND

A portrait of two victims of the Great Depression whose taste for guns and fast cars led to short careers in crime but longer ones as legends.

Blumenthal (Hillary Rodham Clinton, 2016, etc.) makes a determined effort to untangle a mare’s nest of conflicting eyewitness accounts, purple journalism, inaccurate police reports, and self-serving statements from relatives and cohorts of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Though the results sometimes read as dry recitations of names and indistinguishable small towns, she makes perceptive guesses about what drove them and why they have become iconic figures, along with retracing their early lives, two-year crime spree, and subsequent transformations into doomed pop-culture antiheroes. She does not romanticize the duo—giving many of their murder victims faces through individual profiles, for instance, and describing wounds in grisly detail—but does convincingly argue that their crimes and characters (particularly Bonnie’s) were occasionally exaggerated. Blumenthal also wrenchingly portrays the desperation that their displaced, impoverished families must have felt while pointedly showing how an overtaxed, brutal legal system can turn petty offenders into violent ones. A full version of Bonnie’s homespun ballad “The Story of Bonnie and Clyde” and notes on the subsequent lives of significant relatives, accomplices, and lawmen join meaty lists of sources and interviews at the end.

Painstaking, judicious, and by no means exculpatory but with hints of sympathy. (photos, timeline, author’s note, source notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12-14)

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-451-47122-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled.

RUNNING DRY

THE GLOBAL WATER CRISIS

In urgent tones, a call for action as climate change and continuing waste and pollution of available fresh water pose imminent threats to human health and agriculture.

Drawing from recently published reports and news stories, Kallen paints an alarming picture. Aquifers are being sucked dry by large-scale agriculture, lake levels are falling, and water sources above- and belowground are being polluted. Though he points to a few significant counterefforts—the Clean Water Act (1972) in the United States and local initiatives elsewhere, such as “rainwater harvesting” ponds in India and Kenya—these come off as spotty responses that are often hobbled by political and corporate foot-dragging. He also points to shrinking glaciers and snow packs (plus, for added gloom, superstorms like Sandy) as harbingers of climate change that will lead to widespread future disaster. Aside from occasional incidents or examples and rare if telling photos, though, this jeremiad is largely composed of generalities and big numbers—not a formula for motivating young readers. Nor does the author offer budding eco-activists much in the way of either hope or ways to become part of the solution; for the latter, at least, Cathryn Berger Kaye’s Going Blue: A Teens Guide to Saving Our Oceans, Lakes, Rivers, & Wetlands (2010) is a better choice.

Cogent of topic, but for readability, it’s aptly titled. (source notes, multimedia resource lists, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2646-7

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest.

CYBER ATTACK

A quick history of hacking, from the “phone phreaks” of the 1960s to today’s attacks on commercial data stores large and small.

Drawing solely from previously published reports and documents, the authors paint an alarming picture (“The internet has become a cyber criminal playground”) as they trace the growth of increasingly sophisticated digital attacks on personal, corporate and government data systems. Though they rightly point out that many hackers, from early “phreaks” like Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak on, have been motivated more by the pleasures of creating software or high-tech gear (or, as they acknowledge in the case of Edward Snowden, idealism) than criminal intent, most of the incidents they describe involve theft or espionage. Noting that attacks can come from anywhere in the world and that malware can be secretly installed not just on computers, but on any number of gadgets, the authors project little hope of keeping our information safe from bad guys. Nor do they offer more than, at best, bare mention of firewalls, encryption, two-step verification, strong passwords and other protective countermeasures. Still, readers will at least come away more aware of the range of hazards, from phishing and ransomware to botnets and distributed denial of service, as well as the huge, rapidly increasing amounts of money and data shadowy entities are raking in.

A bare-bones introduction for readers without a pre-existing interest. (source notes, bibliography, further reading, index) (Nonfiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2512-5

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Twenty-First Century/Lerner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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