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NEVER ALONE

PRISON, POLITICS, AND MY PEOPLE

Admirers of Sharansky will appreciate this insider’s account of Israeli politics and his independent-minded life.

The noted Soviet dissident and Israeli activist recounts a long history of “living life backward.”

Trained as a physicist, Sharansky (b. 1948), who co-authored this memoir with historian Troy, spent nine years in Soviet prisons for supposed anti-Soviet crimes. The rest of the time he was either alone—“I always found solitary comfortable, if I could read or write there, if it was warm, and if there was food to eat”—or with a bunkmate or two whom he suspected of being KGB informants. Meeting with Nelson Mandela long afterward, the two political prisoners compared notes: Mandela’s sentence was three times longer, but at least he had visitors. Finally, Sharansky was released and immigrated to Israel, where he immediately began agitating for the acceptance of 400,000 of his fellow Soviet Jews. They arrived, a flood of outstanding scientists, artists, and scholars who had followed the guideline that in order to survive they had to excel, and “almost overnight, the number of Israel’s doctors, engineers, musicians, and chess players doubled.” Sharansky allied for a time with Benjamin Netanyahu, opposing the Oslo Accords and other treaties with Palestine on the grounds that they elevated “[Yasser] Arafat’s terrorist dictatorship on the Palestinians, instead of cultivating the more grassroots democratic leadership that was sprouting in the 1990s.” For this, he was pegged a rightist, although as the years passed, he became a sort-of-liberal critic of Netanyahu and his party—and he doesn’t have much good to say about Donald Trump, either. Charmingly, he describes his backward approach to life events: He celebrated his bar mitzvah at 65, which allowed him to “appreciate my Torah portion’s relevance and explain it to everyone without having my rabbi write my speech for me.” Since he was imprisoned immediately after his wedding and didn’t see his wife for years, he has since worked to make his marriage a happily-ever-after story.

Admirers of Sharansky will appreciate this insider’s account of Israeli politics and his independent-minded life.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-4242-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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TANQUERAY

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

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A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

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