How Many Felonies Did You Commit Today? An Interview with Harvey Silverglate

Every day, the average American commits three felonies. So argues civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate in his new book “Three Felonies a Day,” the title of which refers to the number of crimes he estimates that Americans perpetrate each day because of vague and overly burdensome laws. In his book, Silverglate posits that federal criminal laws have become dangerously disconnected from legal tradition and that prosecutors can now pin crimes on anyone for almost nothing at all. The problem, he says, is modern criminal laws, which have exploded in number and become impossibly broad and vague. I don’t know if I … Read More

Methland: Q and A with Nick Reding

Is crystal meth the most dangerous drug in the world? Author Nick Reding believes so, and he develops an impressive case for his argument in his new book Methland: The Death and Life of an American Small Town. Using a cast of fascinating characters from drug traffickers to the town doctor, Reding’s book tells the story of the tiny town of Oelwein, Iowa. Meth has ravaged the depressed town; no one, it seems, has been untouched. “Meth, it seemed, was just a part of life,” writes Reding in his prologue. Reding’s account has received powerful reviews. “The book, wrought from old-fashioned … Read More

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: A Q and A with Allison Hoover Bartlett

Too often true crime writing is big and overhyped. It glorifies the criminal. It ignores the convoluted nature of crime and criminal justice. In her new book The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession, Allison Hoover Bartlett doesn’t fall into this trap. Far from it. Her style is smooth and understated and readily acknowledges the complexities of crime and criminal justice. A short excerpt: A couple of months after Gilkey’s 2005 release from prison, I met him in front of 49 Geary Street, a building that houses several … Read More

LA Noir: Q and A with John Buntin about the struggle for the soul of LA

“Other cities have histories. Los Angeles has legends.” So begins John Buntin’s new book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City. The book provides a fascinating history of the city of angels, telling the story of the town’s most storied cop, Bill Parker, and its most infamous robber, Mickey Cohen. Buntin uses a dual biography to give the book a strong narrative backbone. Former boxer Mickey Cohen became Hollywood’s favorite mobster and ruled the city’s underworld for years. Bill Parker grew up in South Dakota, son of a fabled lawman, and was determined to free the … Read More

Snakehead: Q and A with Author Patrick Radden Keefe

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1993, a ship slammed into a sand bar near Brooklyn, New York. Inside the boat were hundreds of illegal Chinese immigrants. They were exhausted and hungry, and after paying more than $30,000 for the trip, many were flat broke. Some tried to wade to shore. Some drowned. The police arrested many of them. The boat was called the Golden Venture–and the incident made newspaper headlines for days. The story of the Golden Venture kicks off a new book called, Snakehead: An Epic Tale of the Chinatown Underworld and the American Dream. Written by author Patrick … Read More