A stellar—and often shocking—report on a broken criminal justice system.



A prominent defense and civil rights lawyer indicts the criminal justice system as he recalls his work with clients such as Michael Peterson, the novelist who inspired the Netflix series The Staircase.

Rudolf once helped to negotiate a $9 million civil settlement for a man who had been held without a trial for 14 years on the basis of a “confession” so articulate it might have come from an English professor although the prisoner had an IQ of less than 60. That story is far from the most startling in this potent critique of systemic errors and misconduct by police and prosecutors that have led to wrongful convictions nationwide, many in North Carolina, where the author practices law and racial biases have long plagued the justice system. With keen moral force backed by clear and persuasive examples from his work or that of groups such as the Innocence Project, Rudolf shows how mental, physical, or legal influences can subvert justice. Police corruption is only one. Psychological factors like confirmation bias can cause police to trust their “intuition” about a suspect in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Misunderstandings about the limits of forensic science can result in overvaluing fingerprint or other “pattern-based” evidence. Even well-meaning efforts like Crime Stoppers hotlines can taint trials by tempting people to lie for rewards. An overarching problem is that jury trials in federal criminal cases are “essentially extinct,” with 97% of cases resolved by plea. Consequently, a defense lawyer’s job is “primarily to explain to the defendant the incredible cost of being convicted after a trial and the great benefit of pleading guilty as soon as possible”—even if they are innocent. For readers seeking to top up their outrage about abuses in criminal justice, this book makes a fine companion to Bryan Stephenson’s Just Mercy and Emily Bazelon’s Charged.

A stellar—and often shocking—report on a broken criminal justice system.

Pub Date: Jan. 25, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-299735-7

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.


The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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