Nonfiction Video Interviews


Frank Bruni

author of WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU'LL BE

Kirkus Interview

March 31, 2015
WHERE YOU GO IS NOT WHO YOU'LL BE by Frank Bruni Over the last few decades, Americans have turned college admissions into a terrifying and occasionally devastating process, preceded by test prep, tutors, all sorts of stratagems, all kinds of rankings, and a conviction among too many young people that their futures will be determined and their worth established by which schools say yes and which say no. In Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni explains why, giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes. “Written in a lively style but carrying a wallop, this is a book that family and educators cannot afford to overlook as they try to navigate the treacherous waters of college admissions,” our reviewer writes. View video >

Bill Browder

author of RED NOTICE

Kirkus Interview

March 24, 2015
RED NOTICE by Bill Browder Bill Browder’s Red Notice is a nonfiction political thriller about an American financier in the Wild East of Russia, the murder of his principled young tax attorney, and his mission to expose the Kremlin’s corruption. In 2007, a group of Russian law enforcement officers raided Browder’s offices in Moscow and stole $230 million of taxes that his fund’s companies had paid to the Russian government. Browder’s attorney Sergei Magnitsky investigated the incident and uncovered a sprawling criminal enterprise. A month after Sergei testified against the officials involved, he was arrested and thrown into pre-trial detention, where he was tortured for a year. On November 16, 2009, he was led to an isolation chamber, handcuffed to a bedrail, and beaten to death by eight guards in full riot gear. “It may be that ‘Russian stories never have happy endings,’ ” our reviewer writes about Red Notice, “but Browder’s account more than compensates by ferociously unmasking Putin’s thugocracy.” View video >

Erik Larson

author of DEAD WAKE

Kirkus Interview

March 17, 2015
DEAD WAKE by Erik Larson On May 1, 1915, with WWI entering its tenth month, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone. For months, German U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds”—the fastest liner then in service—and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. It is a story that many of us think we know but don’t, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly in Dead Wake, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. “An intriguing, entirely engrossing investigation into a legendary disaster,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >

Sharyl Attkisson

author of STONEWALLED

Kirkus Interview

January 13, 2015
STONEWALLED by Sharyl Attkisson Who’s been hacking investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson’s computers? Computers that turn themselves on in the night, make strange noises, then shut themselves down. Whoever is doing it is using highly sophisticated spyware available only to our top intelligence agencies. Is someone sending Attkisson a message? In Stonewalled, Attkisson describes how, through more than 30 years as an award-winning investigative reporter, she uncovered wrongdoing by those in power, whether major corporations, government officials, or presidential administrations of both parties. But when she started looking into stories involving the Obama administration’s mistakes and misjudgments in a series of high-profile cases, she was confronted with the administration’s use of hardball tactics. “A deep, nuanced and indignant indictment of the players who have made investigative journalism harder to conduct, even if those actors are other journalists,” our reviewer writes. View video >

Beth Macy

author of FACTORY MAN

Kirkus Interview

December 9, 2014
FACTORY MAN by Beth Macy The Bassett Furniture Company was once the world's biggest wood furniture manufacturer. Run by the same powerful Virginia family for generations, it was also the center of life in Bassett, Virginia. But beginning in the 1980s, the first waves of Asian competition hit, and ultimately Bassett was forced to send its production overseas. In Factory Man, Beth Macy details John Bassett’s epic struggle to keep his company in business amid unfair overseas business practices that forced many U.S. manufacturers to move their factories abroad. A brash, patriotic charmer fond of quoting George Patton. The author’s brightly written, richly detailed narrative not only illuminates globalization and the issue of offshoring, but succeeds brilliantly in conveying the human costs borne by low-income people displaced from a way of life. We like Factory Man so much, we named it to our list of Best Nonfiction Books of 2014. We talk to Macy this week on Kirkus TV. View video >

Tavis Smiley

author of DEATH OF A KING

Kirkus Interview

November 6, 2014
DEATH OF A KING by Tavis Smiley Martin Luther King, Jr. died in one of the most shocking assassinations the world has known, but little is remembered about the life he led in his final year. In Death of a King, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley recounts the final 365 days of King's life, revealing the minister's trials and tribulations—denunciations by the press, rejection from the president, dismissal by the country's black middle class and militants, assaults on his character, ideology, and political tactics, to name a few—all of which he had to rise above in order to lead and address the racism, poverty and militarism that threatened to destroy our democracy. We caught up with Smiley at the Texas Book Festival to ask him about the book. View video >

Christian Rudder

author of DATACLYSM

Kirkus Interview

October 30, 2014
DATACLYSM by Christian Rudder Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. In Dataclysm, Christian Rudder, the founder of OkCupid, uses it to show us who we truly are. For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers. Are you a racist? Plainer-looking than you might wish? Inclined to vote left? Big data knows—and it’s talking. Demographers, entrepreneurs, students of history and sociology, and ordinary citizens alike will find plenty of provocations in Rudder’s book. We met up with Rudder at the Texas Book Festival. View video >

Dick Cavett

author of BRIEF ENCOUNTERS

Kirkus Interview

October 20, 2014
BRIEF ENCOUNTERS by Dick Cavett In Brief Encounters: Conversations, Magic Moments, and Assorted Hijinks, quick-witted talk show host Dick Cavett dishes on some of the famous people he’s interviewed: There’s much ado about Marlene Dietrich, Groucho, Carson and the Burtons, Jonathan Winters, Mel Brooks and Stan Laurel. Brief Encounters, taken from Cavett’s online columns for The New York Times, offers piquant commentary on contemporary politics, the indignities of travel, the nature of comedy writing and the utter improbability of being alive at all. We’ll ask him about his career and his writing life on Kirkus TV this week. View video >

Upcoming Kirkus Interviews

April 14, 2015
Fatima Bhutto