BOOK REVIEW: Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System by M. Chris Fabricant

59427482Title: Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System

Author: M. Chris Fabricant

Audiobook Length: 12 hours and 15 minutes

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, True Crime, Science, Politics, Social Justice

Read Start Date: April 3, 2022

Read Finish Date: April 7, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: An insider’s journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role junk science plays in maintaining the status quo.

From CSI to Forensic Files to the celebrated reputation of the FBI crime lab, “forensic scientists” have long been mythologized in American popular culture as infallible crime solvers. Judges and juries put their faith in “expert witnesses” and innocent people have been executed as a result. Innocent people are on death row today, condemned by junk science.

In 2012, the Innocence Project began searching for prisoners convicted by junk science, and three men, each convicted of capital murder, became M. Chris Fabricant’s clients. Junk Science and the American Criminal Justice System chronicles the fights to overturn their wrongful convictions and to end the use of the “science” that destroyed their lives. Weaving together courtroom battles from Mississippi to Texas to New York City, Fabricant takes the reader on a journey into the heart of a broken, racist system of justice and the role forensic science plays in maintaining the status quo.

At turns gripping, enraging, and moving, Junk Science is a meticulously researched insider’s perspective of the American criminal justice system. Previously untold stories of wrongful executions, corrupt prosecutors, and quackery masquerading as science animate Fabricant’s astonishing true-crime narrative. The book also features a full-color photo insert that illustrates the junk science explored by the author.

My Review: I received this audiobook from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is really interesting and informative and tells several stories of innocent men convicted using “junk science” e.g. bite mark evidence. It is such a travesty of justice for innocent men to sit in prison for decades, or even be executed, because of “evidence” that isn’t even valid, while the real guilty party is allowed to live their life a free man.

The author is an innocent project attorney who works to get justice for these unfortunate men sitting in prison after being wrongfully convicted. The first person narrative of the author brings a personal perspective to the cases which are being analyzed in the book, and you can really sense the author is incensed over the injustice.

The book seems to also be well researched (in addition to maybe being first hand knowledge of the facts) and it is well written. I was engaged the entire way through, even though the overall message was somehow redundant — i.e., that junk science is garbage.

If you like true crime stories, and Netflix shows such as The Staircase, then you will definitely like this book.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

BOOK REVIEW: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

I first heard about a person named James Comey when President Trump fired him from his job as FBI Director for his failure to agree to be “loyal” to Trump. Famously, he agreed to be “loyally honest” in some sort of weird compromise. From Austria, I watched Comey’s hearing testimony before Congress with great interest. Many blamed him for Hilary Clinton’s defeat.

When I learned that he had written a book, I was intrigued to see his perspective on the controversial Presidency and Hilary email scandal. Although most of the book was about Comey’s career before Trump became president, Comey did have this to say about Trump:

“Donald Trump’s Presidency threatens much of what is good in this nation. We all bear responsibility for the deeply flawed choices put before voters during the 2016 election and our country is paying a high price. This President is unethical and untethered to truth and institutional values. His leadership is transactional, ego driven, and about personal loyalty. We are fortunate some ethical leaders have chosen to serve and to stay at senior levels of government, but they cannot prevent all the damage from the forest fire that is the Trump presidency. Their task is to try to contain it.”

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey”

BOOK REVIEW: Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim

In 1923, Mei Ling’s older sister falls gravely ill a few days before her arranged marriage to a man she has never met.  Mei Ling is forced to take her’s sister place.  Leaving her family in China, Mei Ling travels to America.  In order to enter the country, Mei Ling must assume the identity of the man’s deceased wife, essentially using her immigration documents as her own (a “Paper Wife”).

the paper wife

When Mei Ling befriends a young orphan girl on the ship to America, little did she know that she was creating a bond for life.  When it is Mei Ling’s turn to leave Angel Island (the unfriendly place where immigrants were housed until their entry application was approved) she is forced to leave Siew behind.  Making good on her promise to see Siew again, Mei Ling searches for the child to ensure that she is safe, only to find that Siew’s Uncle wasn’t who he appeared to be, and that Siew herself was a paper child.  This dark revelation has a damaging impact on Mei Ling and her family, who must fight to overcome the reality of Siew’s situation.

Continue reading “BOOK REVIEW: Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim”

BOOK REVIEW: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff

36595101Title: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Author: Michael Wolff

Book Length (Audiobook): 11 hours 55 mins

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Nonfiction, Politics, History

Read Start Date: September 16, 2018

Read Finish Date: September 29, 2018

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads With extraordinary access to the West Wing, Michael Wolff reveals what happened behind-the-scenes in the first nine months of the most controversial presidency of our time in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States, the country―and the world―has witnessed a stormy, outrageous, and absolutely mesmerizing presidential term that reflects the volatility and fierceness of the man elected Commander-in-Chief.

This riveting and explosive account of Trump’s administration provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office, including:
— What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
— What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
— Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
— Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
— Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
— What the secret to communicating with Trump is
— What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers

Never before in history has a presidency so divided the American people. Brilliantly reported and astoundingly fresh, Fire and Fury shows us how and why Donald Trump has become the king of discord and disunion.

My Review: On the night of the election in 2016, I was at the local watering hole in Corpus Christi, Texas, where I was currently living for a work assignment. The Executive Surf Club is a great bar in Corpus Christi, and the guys and I would go every Tuesday for “Pint Night” (a night where a pint of beer was only $2 or $3). On this night, we had particularly gone to watch the election results.  At the beginning of the night, a victory for Hillary seemed assured.

As the night wore on, however, it became more and more obvious (and depressing), that Trump was going to win.  When I woke the next morning to discover that Trump had in fact won,  I was not at all unhappy that my contract had already been signed to move to Austria.  It seemed that I was getting out just in time.

Fire and Fury tells the story of the Trump campaign, painting a picture of a man who was only running for President to lose the race–the ultimate goal of course to become internationally famous and to improve his “brand”–only to find out that “oops” he had in fact won.

The author undoubtedly did not see Donald Trump as an “evil” person, but rather as a ignorant dup who basically had no political agenda (and in fact knew little to nothing about politics, law, or history), and just went with whatever Steve Bannon told him to do.  Basically, the author painted a picture of good (Ivanka and Jared) against evil (Bannon) and Trump, the impatient, childish puppet, caught in the middle.

If you haven’t already read the book, and even if you are a news hound, I would still suggest to read this book.  It was written very well and even surprised me in some places (e.g., how Bannon released the immigration Executive Order on a Friday to purposely cause chaos at airports).