Children Under Fire by John Woodrow Cox

John Woodrow Cox’s Children Under Fire: An American Crisis (Ecco, 2021) is an unflinching look at gun violence in the United States. Cox, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his Washington Post series Children Under Fire presents a detailed account of two elementary school children—Ava from South Carolina and Tyshaun from Washington, D.C.—and explores how they have both been affected …

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The Violence Project by Jillian Peterson and James Densley

There are many books that discuss mass shootings and their causes, and I have read a few. What I have not seen in most of these books are solutions to prevent mass shootings. Jillian Peterson’s and James Densley’s The Violence Project: How to Stop a Mass Shooting Epidemic (Abrams Press, 2021) is that book—it is the book …

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A Descending Spiral by Marc Bookman

Marc Bookman’s essay collection A Descending Spiral: Exposing the Death Penalty in 12 Essays (The New Press, 2021) is a brutal and illuminating look at the death penalty in the United States. Bookman is the executive director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, an organization dedicated to reducing the number of death sentences in Pennsylvania. Prior to …

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The Lady of Sing Sing by Idanna Pucci

In her recently re-released book The Lady of Sing Sing: An American Countess, An Italian Immigrant, and their Epic Battle for Justice in New York’s Gilded Age (Simon & Schuster 2020), previously published as The Trials of Maria Barbella (1996), Idanna Pucci recounts the harrowing story of young Italian immigrant Maria Barbella. After being convicted of murdering her lover, …

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The Murders that Made us by Bob Calhoun

As someone who is currently writing a dissertation on California literature, I couldn’t wait to pick up Bob Calhoun’s The Murders that Made Us: How Vigilantes, Hoodlums, Mob Bosses, Serial Killers, and Cult Leaders Built the San Francisco Bay Area (ECW Press, 2021). My work focuses mostly on Southern California, so I was eager to see what Calhoun …

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Death on Ocean Boulevard by Caitlin Rother

Death on Ocean Boulevard: Inside the Coronado Mansion Case (Kensington Books 2021) by Caitlin Rother is a deep dive into the infamous Rebecca Zahau case. Rebecca was found hanging nude from a balcony at San Diego’s Spreckels Mansion with her wrists and ankles bound. Her hands were behind her back, and she was gagged with a …

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