A horrifying yet necessary picture of exploitation and poverty in the Congo.

A penetrating exposé on the deliberate smoke screens created by powerful companies to obscure the realities behind the abysmal conditions of cobalt miners in the Congo.

Cobalt is highly valuable as an essential component of the rechargeable batteries that power laptops, tablets, smartphones, and electric vehicles. As such, the demand for cobalt has risen exponentially in the last decade. In 2021, 72% of the global supply was mined in the Congo, along what is called the Central African Copper Belt. In this eye-opening and disturbing investigative report, Kara, the author of multiple books on modern global slavery, paints a stark portrait of the appalling conditions in the mining villages, expertly capturing the “frenzy” of digging by so-called artisanal miners, who toil in unspeakable conditions for a pittance. These workers are the first link in the exploitative chain of resource extraction that keeps millions of Africans in poverty and ill health and degrades the environment, all while enriching massive corporations and foreign investors. Nationalized by former dictator Joseph Mobutu, then sold to the Chinese in 2012 by subsequent dictator Joseph Kabila, the mines were supposed to support infrastructure, education, and health care, yet little of that money has benefited the Congolese people. Peasants are so desperate for work that digging compels the whole family to participate, even the children; there are few schools, and those that exist are too expensive for low-wage workers. Corporations such as Apple, Tesla, Samsung, and Daimler claim to follow regulations, but Kara demonstrates their duplicity and empty public relations rhetoric. In more than two decades of “research into slavery and child labor, I have never seen more extreme predation for profit than I witnessed at the bottom of the global cobalt supply chains.” The author’s well-written, forcefully argued report exposes the widespread, debilitating human ramifications of our device-driven global society.

A horrifying yet necessary picture of exploitation and poverty in the Congo.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-28430-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


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


A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Black Americans declare their love.

This anthology brings together dozens of love letters by prominent Black Americans. The entries, interspersed with illustrations, address an eclectic mix of topics arranged under five categories: Care, Awe, Loss, Ambivalence, and Transformation. In their introduction, editors Brown and Johnson note the book’s inspiration in the witnessing of violence directed at Black America. Reckonings with outrage and grief, they explain, remain an urgent task and a precondition of creating and sustaining loving bonds. The editors seek to create “a site for our people to come together on the deepest, strongest emotion we share” and thus open “the possibility for shared deliverance” and “carve out a space for healing, together.” This aim is powerfully realized in many of the letters, which offer often poignant portrayals of where redemptive love has and might yet be found. Among the most memorable are Joy Reid’s “A Love Letter to My Hair,” a sensitive articulation of a hard-won sense of self-love; Morgan Jerkins’ “Dear Egypt,” an exploration of a lifelong passion for an ancient world; and VJ Jenkins’ “Pops and Dad,” an affirmation that it “is beautiful to be Black, to be a man, and to be gay.” Tracey Michae’l Lewis-Giggetts’ “Home: A Reckoning” is particularly thoughtful and incisive in its examination of a profound attachment, “in the best and worst ways,” to Louisville, Kentucky. Most of the pieces pair personal recollections with incisive cultural commentary. The cumulative effect of these letters is to set forth a panorama of opportunities for maintaining the ties that matter most, especially in the face of a cultural milieu that continues to produce virulent forms of love’s opposite. Other contributors include Nadia Owusu, Jamila Woods, Ben Crump, Eric Michael Dyson, Kwame Dawes, Jenna Wortham, and Imani Perry.

A wide-ranging collection of testaments to what moves the heart.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9781638931201

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Get Lifted Books/Zando

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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