Pompous and self-lauding: a book for true believers only.

JULIAN ASSANGE IN HIS OWN WORDS

A collection of thoughts from the self-styled champion of free expression.

Clinton or Trump? Says Assange, holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London at the time, “Well, you’re asking me, do I prefer cholera or gonorrhea?” It’s a characteristically inapt comparison. The reason Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in the first place was to escape extradition to Sweden to face charges of rape (later dropped), which makes his musings on “the ideal man” a touch suspect: “It’s someone who has the courage of their convictions, who doesn’t bow to pressure, who doesn’t exploit people who are weaker than they are, who acts in an honourable way.” Volume editor Sharpe lauds Assange for his courage in performing such acts as dumping documents via WikiLeaks concerning the Clinton campaign just before the 2016 election. (To be sure, many readers will ask, why not the Trump campaign?) Risibly, Sharpe also likens Assange to British poet Wilfred Owen, who died in World War I after having decried “the old lie” that it is sweet and noble to die for one’s country. If hiding behind closed curtains is comparable, she may have a point; otherwise, not. Assange’s defense of WikiLeaks, which specializes in publishing government and corporate documents, as the “rebel library of Alexandria” seems off, too, unless Alexandria has been transported to Moscow. (Why no data dumps of Russian secrets? Curious minds want to know.) “Truth, ultimately, is all we have,” Assange pronounces, seemingly not pausing to consider whether his truth is not a partial thing. But then, even as he prides himself on being a courageous journalist, he lauds partiality in another strange comparison: “To be completely impartial is to be an idiot. This would mean that we would have to treat the dust in the street the same as the lives of people who have been killed.”

Pompous and self-lauding: a book for true believers only.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68219-263-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

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GOING THERE

The veteran newscaster reflects on her triumphs and hardships, both professional and private.

In this eagerly anticipated memoir, Couric (b. 1957) transforms the events of her long, illustrious career into an immensely readable story—a legacy-preserving exercise, for sure, yet judiciously polished and insightful, several notches above the fray of typical celebrity memoirs. The narrative unfolds through a series of lean chapters as she recounts the many career ascendency steps that led to her massively successful run on the Today Show and comparably disappointing stints as CBS Evening News anchor, talk show host, and Yahoo’s Global News Anchor. On the personal front, the author is candid in her recollections about her midlife adventures in the dating scene and deeply sorrowful and affecting regarding the experience of losing her husband to colon cancer as well as the deaths of other beloved family members, including her sister and parents. Throughout, Couric maintains a sharp yet cool-headed perspective on the broadcast news industry and its many outsized personalities and even how her celebrated role has diminished in recent years. “It’s AN ADJUSTMENT when the white-hot spotlight moves on,” she writes. “The ego gratification of being the It girl is intoxicating (toxic being the root of the word). When that starts to fade, it takes some getting used to—at least it did for me.” Readers who can recall when network news coverage and morning shows were not only relevant, but powerfully influential forces will be particularly drawn to Couric’s insights as she tracks how the media has evolved over recent decades and reflects on the negative effects of the increasing shift away from reliable sources of informed news coverage. The author also discusses recent important cultural and social revolutions, casting light on issues of race and sexual orientation, sexism, and the predatory behavior that led to the #MeToo movement. In that vein, she expresses her disillusionment with former co-host and friend Matt Lauer.

A sharp, entertaining view of the news media from one of its star players.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-53586-1

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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