A searing but ultimately hopeful indictment of sexual exploitation.



Victims of sex trafficking fight for freedom with the help of Christian compassion in this nonfiction work.

Filmmaker, journalist, and anti-trafficking activist Yu Friedman recounts her investigation into coerced sex work across eastern Asia. She tells of the danger she encountered while filming seedy storefront bordellos on a 2012 trip to the Chinese province of Yunnan and revisits the Korean women forced into sex work during World War II, about whom she wrote in Silenced No More (2015). She interviews North Korean women who were driven by starvation to immigrate to China and then sold as brides to farmers; talks to Hong Kong nightclub hostesses who toil to pay off debts to traffickers; and tells of preteen Cambodian children in Thailand, driven into sex slavery. Somber patterns emerge from the stories: Impoverished women are lured from home by false promises of high-paying jobs and then imprisoned by traffickers, who beat and rape them until they submit to forced sex work; many struggle with addiction and have unwanted children, and a lack of education and a victim-blaming culture leave them with few options. But Yu Friedman finds inspiration in Christian groups such as Door of Hope, which offers counseling, shelter, and job training to women trying to break free. Her narrative sometimes takes a melodramatic tone—“I felt a sense of dread and oppressive danger looking out at this pit of hell,” she writes of one red-light district—and is often framed around redemption arcs that culminate in turns toward God; one describes a Chinese crime boss who embraced Christianity and shuttered his brothel after an angel visited him in a dream. But her reportage is sympathetic and perceptive, and her prose is often evocative: “When I first met Kat, she was bright-eyed and cried easily at the thought of entertaining men. A few months later, she was emaciated, her skin had turned sallow, her long jet-black hair was limp and greasy, and her eyes had the wide-eyed bloodshot look of a regular drug user.” The result is a revealing look at a shocking humanitarian crisis.

A searing but ultimately hopeful indictment of sexual exploitation.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-9-814954-34-1

Page Count: 294

Publisher: Penguin Random House SEA

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.


A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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