Comprehensive, riveting reportage on the enduring fight against domestic terrorism and racial violence.



How an ordinary American citizen thwarted the sinister plot of a homegrown militant hate group at the dawn of the Trump era.

Investigative journalist Lehr tells the story of Dan Day, a lifelong Kansan family man and unemployed former probation officer who, in 2015, infiltrated a local militia group as their “intelligence officer” while reporting their conspiracy plots to the FBI. In the wake of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, perpetrated by a young man who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, a tightly knit terrorist militia group calling itself the Kansas Security Force sought retaliation against the concentrated Somali Muslim population of Garden City. They planned to bomb an apartment building and a mosque. Using sworn testimonies, federal court documents, and more than 100 hours of Day’s hidden audio and video camera recordings, Lehr chronicles the entire ordeal with seamless ease, studding the narrative with numerous moments of taut true-crime tension. Day was fully immersed in KSF, gaining the trust of the three key “Crusaders”—Patrick Stein, Curtis Allen, and Gavin Wright—and he introduced them to “Brian,” an undercover FBI agent posing as an arms dealer. The author expertly captures these moments with vivid imagery and often frightening detail, and he clearly shows the true criminal nature of the terrorist mindset and how conspiracy plots are hatched and developed. He also profiles the lives of Somali citizens in Garden City, the refugee experience, and how that community thrives despite the ever present fear of racist violence. Lehr is a seasoned journalist whose distinguished career includes crisply probed accounts of organized crime bosses and police brutality coverups. In this report, his lucid investigative prowess once again creates a dramatic tapestry of hate, hope, and justice. He also offers a cautionary reminder about the pervasive presence of political extremism in America.

Comprehensive, riveting reportage on the enduring fight against domestic terrorism and racial violence.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-35990-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Mariner Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A thimbleful of fresh content lies buried in tales familiar and often told.


Beatlemania meets autopsy in the latest product from the Patterson factory.

The authors take more than half the book to reach John Lennon’s final days, which passed 40 years ago—an anniversary that, one presumes, provides the occasion for it. The narrative opens with killer Mark David Chapman talking to himself: “It’s like I’m invisible.” And how do we know that Chapman thought such a thing? Well, the authors aver, they’re reconstructing the voices in his head and other conversations “based on available third-party sources and interviews.” It’s a dubious exercise, and it doesn’t get better with noir-ish formulas (“His mind is a dangerous neighborhood”) and clunky novelistic stretches (“John Lennon wakes up, reaches for his eyeglasses. At first the day seems like any other until he realizes it’s a special one….He picks up the kitchen phone to greet his old songwriting partner, who’s called to wish him all the best for the record launch”). In the first half of the book, Patterson and company reheat the Beatles’ origin story and its many well-worn tropes, all of which fans already know in detail. Allowing for the internal monologue, things improve somewhat once the narrative approaches Chapman’s deranged act—300-odd pages in, leaving about 50 pages for a swift-moving account of the murder and its aftermath, which ends with Chapman in a maximum-security cell where “he will be protected from the ugliness of the outside world….The cell door slides shut and locks. Mark David Chapman smiles. I’m home.” To their credit, the authors at least don’t blame Lennon’s “Happiness Is a Warm Gun” for egging on the violence that killed him, but this book pales in comparison to Kenneth Womack’s John Lennon 1980 and Philip Norman’s John Lennon: The Life, among many other tomes on the Fab Four.

A thimbleful of fresh content lies buried in tales familiar and often told.

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-42906-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2021

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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