A memoir, a legal thriller, and a heartening perspective on law enforcement at its best and brightest.



How a ferocious California prosecutor fought successfully against a significant component of the global sex-trafficking industry.

Krell was 25 years old when she worked on her first case involving young sex workers and began to see that prostitution was anything but a victimless crime. "The images of those girls from that motel…were etched into my brain,” she writes, “and would drive me throughout my career….By the time I became a supervising deputy attorney general at the California Department of Justice, the seedy motel, I realized, had metamorphosized into a website: Backpage.com." For 10 years in 800 cities, Backpage ran ads selling young people for sex, taking a cut that amounted to millions of dollars. Yet when Krell fought through local and federal resistance to orchestrate the arrests of Backpage’s leaders, she saw an award from the FBI on one of their desks, praising his "outstanding cooperation" in helping them "find victims." As the author knew, Backpage merely helped pimps thwart law enforcement by rewriting the ads that had gotten them in trouble. When she finally got the case to court in 2016, it was dismissed without a trial due to the Communications Decency Act, perceived as “a complete shield from liability” for any business conducted on the internet. Shaken but undeterred, Krell built a team of attorneys and law enforcement officers who finally put an end to the outrages of this online brothel. Of her counterpart in Texas, lead attorney Kirsta Melton, Krell writes, "We were both busy moms scrambling to get our kids to sports practices and games while also prosecuting some of the most depraved criminals in our respective states….Above all else, we were both hell-bent on helping kids and doing everything we could to disrupt sex trafficking.” Both women deserve the highest praise for their enterprising work on behalf of some of society’s most vulnerable members.

A memoir, a legal thriller, and a heartening perspective on law enforcement at its best and brightest.

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-4798-0304-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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