Recommended for anyone who wants to spend time with intelligent minds wrestling not with each other but with understanding.

The text version of the popular, hyperarticulate, interviewed-based podcast.

So much of public debate in America, circa 2020, takes one of two forms: people arguing in order to generate controversy or conversations in which the interviewer is little more than a set piece for an unchallenged monologue. Harris aims for something eminently more useful. This lightly edited sampling of his podcast of the same name includes long-form interviews with scholars and intellectuals on a range of topics. Whether the discussion is about artificial intelligence, the future capacities of knowledge, politics, philosophy, intuition, history (philosopher Thomas Metzinger shares experiences from post–World War II Germany that are hard to look away from), religion, reason, or the nature of consciousness, Harris grounds lofty discussions with concrete examples and his gift for analogy. Few of the interviewees are household names—perhaps aside from psychologist Daniel Kahneman and Timothy Snyder—but readers will not question their credentials or motives. If you’re bright, well read, and secure in yourself, you don’t mind having your arguments examined, even by thinkers with the intellectual chops to poke holes in the fabric of your life’s work. Case in point: The interview with physics professor David Deutsch contains the guest’s criticism of the host’s self-described “cherished” thesis from Harris’ book The Moral Landscape. This critique wasn’t spontaneous; Deutsch had initiated a private conversation, and Harris asked for permission to press record. This speaks to the author’s agenda: free and open debate, in the best sense of the word. Nonacademics may hit intellectual potholes when encountering words like epiphenomenalism and panpsychist and, to be sure, this is no breezy read. But the book’s advantage over the podcast is that readers can linger as they need to and cherry-pick interviews at will.

Recommended for anyone who wants to spend time with intelligent minds wrestling not with each other but with understanding.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-285778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.

Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.

A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023

ISBN: 9781668028285

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023



Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.

A measured memoir from a daughter of the famous family.

Growing up in the Institute of Basic Life Principles community, which she came to realize was “a cult, thriving on a culture of fear and manipulation,” Duggar and her 18 siblings were raised never to question parental authority. As the author recalls, she felt no need to, describing the loving home of her girlhood. When a documentary crew approached her father, Jim Bob, and proposed first a series of TV specials that would be called 17 Kids and Counting (later 18 and 19 Kids and Counting), he agreed, telling his family that this was a chance to share their conservative Christian faith. It was also a chance to become wealthy, but Jill, who was dedicated to following the rules, didn’t question where the money went. A key to her falling out with her family was orchestrated by Jim Bob, who introduced her to missionary Derick Dillard. Their wedding was one of the most-watched episodes of the series. Even though she was an adult, Jill’s parents and the show continued to expect more of the young couple. When they attempted to say no to filming some aspects of their lives, Jill discovered that a sheet of paper her father asked her to sign the day before her wedding was part of a contract in which she had unwittingly agreed to full cooperation. Writing about her sex offender brother, Josh, and the legal action she and Derick had to take to get their questions answered, Jill describes how she was finally able—through therapy, prayer, and the establishment of boundaries—to reconcile love for her parents with Jim Bob’s deception and reframe her faith outside the IBLP.

Dillard’s story reflects maturity and understanding from someone who was forced to mature and understand too much too soon.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781668024447

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023

Close Quickview