Though it runs a touch long, this is a work of exemplary reporting.



As Arizona goes, so goes the nation, according to this searing book of reportage from Phoenix.

Joe Arpaio liked to call himself “America’s toughest sheriff.” A New England transplant to Phoenix, he ran for sheriff at an age when most of his peers were retiring, winning on a law-and-order ticket that targeted undocumented immigrants. Journalists Sterling and Joffe-Block were there for much of Arpaio’s 24-year tenure, during which he became infamous for housing inmates in tents in the summer heat and serving them “gloppy, tasteless, and sometimes moldy” food. As the authors note, Arpaio was an early ally of Donald Trump. Importantly, he also set the stage for Trump by making villains of undocumented workers and by ignoring numerous court orders to cease race-based policing. In the end, that led to a conviction for contempt of court, which might have earned Arpaio jail time but instead led to a Trump pardon. Inarguably, Arpaio’s strong-arm tactics had an effect: “One estimate found that about 92,000 unauthorized immigrants of working age—about 17 percent of that cohort—left Arizona between 2008 and 2009.” Sterling and Joffe-Block diligently chronicle the work of immigration rights activists and undocumented workers while also focusing closely on Arpaio, who, like Trump, professed to despise the press while craving its attention. They also turn in shocking stories of official malfeasance, including a case where a sheriff’s deputy victimized innocent suspects and malefactors alike, stealing a garage full of evidence, including Schedule 1 narcotics. Yet he was kept on the force because he produced “high stats,” immigrant arrests that enhanced Arpaio’s bragging rights. Finally turned out of office, Arpaio lost a primary race for U.S. Senate to a Republican candidate who herself lost because Arizona was turning blue—one reason for which, the authors hint, was a direct repudiation of Arpaio and his policies.

Though it runs a touch long, this is a work of exemplary reporting.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-520-29408-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Univ. of California

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?