A forthright indictment of the media’s shortcomings.



A former journalist’s memoir serves as a call to reinvigorate investigative reporting.

Lawyer and mediator Smith, a former New York Times Washington correspondent, mounts a sharp critique of journalism in his frank, often digressive debut memoir. Smith contends that “suppression of news is alive and well, even at the New York Times,” reflecting both editorial bias and the media’s cozy relationship to those in power. “Power,” writes the author, “oozing from the paper, forms a protective barrier around its correspondents and editors. People shy away from offending Times reporters,” fearing bad publicity. Smith recounts an accomplished career: education, jobs, salient assignments, and battles won and lost. The son of Eastern European immigrants, he attended the prestigious Boston Public Latin School, went on to Harvard, spent a year in Germany as a Fulbright Scholar, and continued his education at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism. Characterizing himself as naïve, he was disillusioned when, working at Time magazine, he saw news manipulated to fit the publications’s conservative views. Smith also encountered suppression elsewhere, including the Boston Herald and the Times. Central to the memoir is one traumatizing incident: With evidence from a trusted source, he learned about the Watergate break-in, but when he brought the story to his editor at the Times, it was ignored, to his astonishment and dismay. The paper’s failure—or refusal—to cover the story “was the result of conscious bias,” he insists, which still shapes whatever the paper sees fit to print and has evolved into “reflexive, unconscious bias” that, he believes, thwarts its efforts to effectively undercut critics like Donald Trump. Frustrated with reporting, Smith opted for the law. In the intellectually stimulating atmosphere of Yale Law School, he began to see the world not as black and white but “a dubious gray.” Smith cautions readers to watch out for bias, ask who is reporting, and consider outside pressures that influence a paper’s focus.

A forthright indictment of the media’s shortcomings.

Pub Date: May 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4930-5771-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

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The Harvard historian and Texas native demonstrates what the holiday means to her and to the rest of the nation.

Initially celebrated primarily by Black Texans, Juneteenth refers to June 19, 1865, when a Union general arrived in Galveston to proclaim the end of slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy. If only history were that simple. In her latest, Gordon-Reed, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award, Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and numerous other honors, describes how Whites raged and committed violence against celebratory Blacks as racism in Texas and across the country continued to spread through segregation, Jim Crow laws, and separate-but-equal rationalizations. As Gordon-Reed amply shows in this smooth combination of memoir, essay, and history, such racism is by no means a thing of the past, even as Juneteenth has come to be celebrated by all of Texas and throughout the U.S. The Galveston announcement, notes the author, came well after the Emancipation Proclamation but before the ratification of the 13th Amendment. Though Gordon-Reed writes fondly of her native state, especially the strong familial ties and sense of community, she acknowledges her challenges as a woman of color in a state where “the image of Texas has a gender and a race: “Texas is a White man.” The author astutely explores “what that means for everyone who lives in Texas and is not a White man.” With all of its diversity and geographic expanse, Texas also has a singular history—as part of Mexico, as its own republic from 1836 to 1846, and as a place that “has connections to people of African descent that go back centuries.” All of this provides context for the uniqueness of this historical moment, which Gordon-Reed explores with her characteristic rigor and insight.

A concise personal and scholarly history that avoids academic jargon as it illuminates emotional truths.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-883-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.



The veteran actor, comedian, and banjo player teams up with the acclaimed illustrator to create a unique book of cartoons that communicates their personalities.

Martin, also a prolific author, has always been intrigued by the cartoons strewn throughout the pages of the New Yorker. So when he was presented with the opportunity to work with Bliss, who has been a staff cartoonist at the magazine since 1997, he seized the moment. “The idea of a one-panel image with or without a caption mystified me,” he writes. “I felt like, yeah, sometimes I’m funny, but there are these other weird freaks who are actually funny.” Once the duo agreed to work together, they established their creative process, which consisted of working forward and backward: “Forwards was me conceiving of several cartoon images and captions, and Harry would select his favorites; backwards was Harry sending me sketched or fully drawn cartoons for dialogue or banners.” Sometimes, he writes, “the perfect joke occurs two seconds before deadline.” There are several cartoons depicting this method, including a humorous multipanel piece highlighting their first meeting called “They Meet,” in which Martin thinks to himself, “He’ll never be able to translate my delicate and finely honed droll notions.” In the next panel, Bliss thinks, “I’m sure he won’t understand that the comic art form is way more subtle than his blunt-force humor.” The team collaborated for a year and created 150 cartoons featuring an array of topics, “from dogs and cats to outer space and art museums.” A witty creation of a bovine family sitting down to a gourmet meal and one of Dumbo getting his comeuppance highlight the duo’s comedic talent. What also makes this project successful is the team’s keen understanding of human behavior as viewed through their unconventional comedic minds.

A virtuoso performance and an ode to an undervalued medium created by two talented artists.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-26289-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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