A riveting, radical, essential revision of the stories we all know—and some we don't.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

PEOPLE LOVE DEAD JEWS

REPORTS FROM A HAUNTED PRESENT

A guided tour of the hypocrisy that serves as the mechanism by which antisemitism rages on unchecked.

The cold fury and in-your-face phrasing of the title of acclaimed novelist Horn's essay collection sets the tone for this brilliantly readable yet purposefully disturbing book. In the first chapter, "Everyone's (Second) Favorite Dead Jew"—presumably Jesus Christ is No. 1—Horn looks at Anne Frank, who the author believes would never have been so beloved had she survived. At the heart of Frank's myth is a passage from her diary that reads, "I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart." As Horn points out, Frank was less than a month from meeting people who surely convinced her that she was wrong. The author ranges widely: the mythology of Ellis Island; the marketing of the Jewish history of Harbin, China (why call it "Property Seized from Dead or Expelled Jews" when you can call it a "Jewish Heritage Site”?); and the problematic elements of Holocaust museums and exhibits. Since these museums have not stopped people hating or killing Jews, wonders the author, what is the point of recalling the operation of the genocide at a “granular” level? Readers will be enthralled throughout by the fierce logic of Horn's arguments, novelty of research, black humor, and sharp phrasing. Particularly affecting is "Commuting With Shylock," in which Horn describes how she listened to an audio version of The Merchant of Venice with her precocious 10-year-old son, stopping frequently to explain key points. His clarity about the meaning of the "prick us, do we not bleed" speech is a revelation. Though Horn briefly mentions Zionism as a key aspect of Jewish heritage, one subject not discussed here is how the complex situation in the Middle East—characterized by dead Jews and dead Palestinians—fits into her analysis.

A riveting, radical, essential revision of the stories we all know—and some we don't.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-393-53156-5

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

HUMANS

The creator of the hit internet series Humans of New York takes it global, chasing down a panoply of interesting stories.

In 1955, Edward Steichen staged a show called “The Family of Man,” a gathering of photographs that emphasized the commonality of humankind. Stanton’s project seemingly has much the same ambition. “You’ve created this magic little corner of the Web where people feel safe sharing their stories—without being ridiculed, or bullied, or judged,” he writes. “These stories are only honestly shared because they have a long history of being warmly received.” The ask is the hard part: approaching a total stranger and asking him or her to tell their stories. And what stories they are. A young Frenchwoman, tearful, recounts being able to see things from the spirit world that no one else can see. “And it’s been a very lonely existence since then,” she says. A sensible teenager in St. Petersburg, Russia, relates that her friends are trying to be grown-up, smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol, whereas she wants to remain a child close to her parents: “I’d like these times to last as long as possible.” A few stories are obnoxious, as with a Dutch incel who has converted himself into a pickup artist and outright cad: “Of course it’s manipulation, but why should I care? I’ve been manipulated so many times in my life.” A great many stories, some going for several pages but most taking up just a paragraph or two, are regretful, speaking to dashed dreams and roads not taken. A surprising number recount mental illness, depression, and addiction; “I’d give anything to have a tribe,” says a beleaguered mother in Barcelona. Some are hopeful, though, such as that of an Iranian woman: “I’ve fallen in love with literature. I try to read for one or two hours every day. I only have one life to live. But in books I can live one thousand lives.”

A lovely, sometimes challenging testament to the universality of human nature.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-11429-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

more