A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.

THIS IS HOW THEY TELL ME THE WORLD ENDS

THE CYBERWEAPONS ARMS RACE

A New York Times cybersecurity writer delivers a sobering account of a thoroughly hacked and cyberattacked world.

Perlroth opens with the 2017 attack of Ukraine’s infrastructure on the part of Russian hackers who, employed directly by Vladimir Putin, had only two rules to follow: They couldn’t attack inside Russia, and “when the Kremlin calls in a favor, you do whatever it asks.” Apart from that, they were free to do as they pleased, and they detonated cyberbombs across the neighboring nation, bringing the power grid down, closing supply chains, and crashing computers, phones, and ATMs. As Perlroth writes, they attacked with poorly guarded tools developed by the American intelligence community. In the end, Russia could have done far worse “with the access it had and the American weapons at its disposal.” But there are other players with the same tools, including Iran and China, who have the wherewithal to wreak greater havoc on the infrastructure of a thoroughly unprepared America. Some of Perlroth’s interlocutors are rightfully paranoid while others are open in defying demands to make private information available to government agencies through back doors into those very tools—a recipe for a police state. One old-school hacker whom the author interviewed in Buenos Aires lamented a change of culture. “We were sharing exploits as a game,” he tells her. “Now the next generation is hoarding them for a profit.” Perlroth suggests that these latter-day hackers are capable of great evil against vulnerable nations—the U.S. foremost among the list of prime targets, not least because America is so addicted to technology. “There wasn’t a single area of our lives that wasn’t touched by the web,” writes the author. “We could now control our entire lives, economy, and grid via a remote web control. And we had never paused to think that, along the way, we were creating the world’s largest attack surface.”

A powerful case for strong cybersecurity policy that reduces vulnerabilities while respecting civil rights.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

GIRLHOOD

An acclaimed nonfiction writer gathers essays embracing the pleasure, pain, and power of growing up as a girl and woman.

In her latest powerful personal and cultural examination, Febos interrogates the complexities of feminism and the "darkness" that has defined much of her life and career. In "Kettle Holes," she describes how experiences of humiliation at the hands of a boy she loved helped shape some of the pleasure she later found working as a dominatrix (an experience she vividly recounted in her 2010 book, Whip Smart). As she fearlessly plumbed the depths of her precocious sexuality in private, she watched in dismay as patriarchal society transformed her into a "passive thing.” In "Wild America," the author delves into body-shaming issues, recounting how, during adolescence, self-hatred manifested as a desire to physically erase herself and her "gigantic" hands. Only later, in the love she found with a lesbian partner, did she finally appreciate the pleasure her hands could give her and others. Febos goes on to explore the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships in "Thesmophoria,” writing about the suffering she brought to her mother through lies and omissions about clandestine—and sometimes dangerous—sexual experiments and youthful flirtations with crystal meth and heroin. Their relationship was based on the "ritual violence" that informed the Persephone/Demeter dyad, in which the daughter alternately brought both pain and joy to her mother. "Intrusions" considers how patriarchy transforms violence against women into narratives of courtship that pervert the meaning of love. In "Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself," Febos memorably demonstrates how the simple act of platonic touching can be transformed into a psychosexual minefield for women. Profound and gloriously provocative, this book—a perfect follow-up to her equally visceral previous memoir, Abandon Me (2017)—transforms the wounds and scars of lived female experience into an occasion for self-understanding that is both honest and lyrical.

Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-252-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A BLACK MAN

A former NFL player casts his gimlet eye on American race relations.

In his first book, Acho, an analyst for Fox Sports who grew up in Dallas as the son of Nigerian immigrants, addresses White readers who have sent him questions about Black history and culture. “My childhood,” he writes, “was one big study abroad in white culture—followed by studying abroad in black culture during college and then during my years in the NFL, which I spent on teams with 80-90 percent black players, each of whom had his own experience of being a person of color in America. Now, I’m fluent in both cultures: black and white.” While the author avoids condescending to readers who already acknowledge their White privilege or understand why it’s unacceptable to use the N-word, he’s also attuned to the sensitive nature of the topic. As such, he has created “a place where questions you may have been afraid to ask get answered.” Acho has a deft touch and a historian’s knack for marshaling facts. He packs a lot into his concise narrative, from an incisive historical breakdown of American racial unrest and violence to the ways of cultural appropriation: Your friend respecting and appreciating Black arts and culture? OK. Kim Kardashian showing off her braids and attributing her sense of style to Bo Derek? Not so much. Within larger chapters, the text, which originated with the author’s online video series with the same title, is neatly organized under helpful headings: “Let’s rewind,” “Let’s get uncomfortable,” “Talk it, walk it.” Acho can be funny, but that’s not his goal—nor is he pedaling gotcha zingers or pleas for headlines. The author delivers exactly what he promises in the title, tackling difficult topics with the depth of an engaged cultural thinker and the style of an experienced wordsmith. Throughout, Acho is a friendly guide, seeking to sow understanding even if it means risking just a little discord.

This guide to Black culture for White people is accessible but rarely easy.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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