Sobering reading but of great interest to those seeking context for so many recent headlines.

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MIGRANT, REFUGEE, SMUGGLER, SAVIOR

Advocacy journalism in the service of the refugees, most from Africa and the Middle East, who are now flooding Europe.

“At no time in history have so many people attempted to cross international borders without authorization,” write Tinti, a research fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, and Reitano, the founder of that organization, “and at no time has a collection of democratic governments purportedly committed to human rights and international law gone to such inhumane lengths to stop them.” Although some of the efforts to stop this traffic have legal and historical precedent, whether simply turning refugees back at the border or hounding them from places of refuge, the business surrounding the refugee crisis is without parallel. This economy of exile, so to speak, is a huge business, with numerous centers. One is Belgrade, the launching point for great columns of refugees seeking to make their way to Western Europe or Scandinavia; the Serbian capital is now the host of a sophisticated smuggling economy that, by the authors’ account, is not quite as thuggish as “the criminal entrepreneurs operating in small border towns.” The authors traverse the trans-Mediterranean smuggling routes, describing the Libyan gangs and their fleets of utterly unseaworthy craft and the highly developing forgery industry of Lebanon, which manufactures fake passports and visas far faster than the understaffed U.N. can sort out. As they write, “identifying a fake that has been printed on real Syrian passport books with real equipment is very difficult.” While a few humanitarians figure in these pages, most of the actors are predators preying on some of the most vulnerable people on Earth—and most of the illegal migration economy is fueled by those who are unwanted, without skills or the ability to fill anything other than the lowest service jobs.

Sobering reading but of great interest to those seeking context for so many recent headlines.

Pub Date: April 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-066859-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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