A detailed, well-constructed biography of a Nazi mass murderer and his escape from justice.



A biography of a little-known but major 20th-century war criminal.

Lawyer and historian Sands tells the fascinating, disturbing story of Otto Wächter (1901-1949), a high-ranking official in the SS. In 2012, while researching the Holocaust in Ukraine, the author learned that Wächter’s son, Horst (b. 1939), was still alive. Since his father served as Nazi governor of Ukraine from 1942 to 1944, where he supervised the murders of Jews and other Soviet civilians, Sands sought a meeting. Although convinced that his father was a “good Nazi,” Horst maintained a close friendship with the author for years, meeting many times and allowing access to a massive trove of family correspondence, journals, and photographs. Born in Austria, Wächter entered the University of Vienna in 1919. He became a member of the fiercely anti-Semitic, pan-German Deutsche Klub and participated in violent anti-Semitic demonstrations. An “early supporter of Adolf Hitler,” he joined the Austrian National Socialist Party in 1923. A prominent Austrian Nazi by the 1930s, he fled to Germany in 1934 after an unsuccessful coup. Welcomed into the SS, he returned to Vienna after the 1938 Anschluss. During the war, he served in several top-level positions but made his mark in Ukraine. After Germany’s surrender in 1945, he disappeared. This event doesn’t occur until 130 pages into the narrative, but readers will not complain. Adding Horst’s archives to extensive interviews allows Sands to deliver a gripping account of Otto’s experience. For three years, he lived in an Alpine cabin supplied by his wife and friendly locals. Then, to escape discovery, he joined the “Ratline,” a route used by Nazis to flee to South America. When he arrived in Rome, sympathetic monks provided him with a small room. After less than three months, before he could acquire money and documents for immigration, he fell ill and died. The list of principal characters is helpful.

A detailed, well-constructed biography of a Nazi mass murderer and his escape from justice.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-52096-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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


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 28, 2022

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