A book that belongs in any QAnon subscriber’s collection.

UNMASKED

INSIDE ANTIFA'S RADICAL PLAN TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY

An overwrought exposé on the supposed lurking menace that is antifa.

The framing event for Ngo’s narrative, about which readers are frequently reminded, is a moment when, in June 2019, he was attacked and beaten at a demonstration in Portland, Oregon. “I was nearly killed by a violent mob,” he claims. “At no point did the police intervene to help.” His attackers, he concludes, must have been members of the anti-fascist, or antifa, movement—and never mind that in several well-documented events, the perpetrators of violent acts have been right-wing extremists disguising themselves as fellow travelers. Ngo is correct when he deems the organization to be “a relatively small group of committed radicals.” After muddying the waters to shift blame away from the Minneapolis police for their killing of George Floyd Jr. and dismissing the thought that the heavily armed, proudly violent boogaloo movement has anything to do with the far right, Ngo goes still farther out onto a logical limb when he urges that the progressive forces of education, health care, government, and the media are allies of the black-masked anarchists. According to the author, there are “whole networks of writers and so-called journalists who intentionally spread pro-antifa messaging.” Though he professes not to support the former president’s view that the press is the enemy of the people, he demurs, “but one can see the basis for that sentiment when looking at how transparently extreme ideologues are presented as the arbiters of truth.” Those extreme ideologues, the proceedings make plain, include anyone who questions Ngo’s account of events, which is right at home with the collected works of Dinesh D’Souza and Michelle Malkin. His conclusion seems particularly untimely given the events of Jan. 6, 2021. He argues that antifa will yield naught but “ash, blood, and feces-stained rubble,” when of course that would better describe what the mob of right-wing extremists left behind at the U.S. Capitol.

A book that belongs in any QAnon subscriber’s collection.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5460-5958-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Center Street/Hachette

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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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

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

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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

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