What We Are Reading Today: The Kidnapping Club by Jonathan Daniel Wells

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Updated 20 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Kidnapping Club by Jonathan Daniel Wells

Taking readers into the bustling streets and ports of America’s great Northern metropolis, The Kidnapping Club is a dramatic account of the ties between slavery and capitalism, the deeply corrupt roots of policing, and the strength of Black activism.
In The Kidnapping Club, historian Jonathan Daniel Wells tells the story of the powerful network of judges, lawyers, and police officers who circumvented anti-slavery laws by sanctioning the kidnapping of free and fugitive African Americans.
Nicknamed “The New York Kidnapping Club,” the group had the tacit support of institutions from Wall Street to Tammany Hall whose wealth depended on the Southern slave and cotton trade.
“But a small cohort of abolitionists, including Black journalist David Ruggles, organized tirelessly for the rights of Black New Yorkers, often risking their lives in the process,” said a review in goodreads.com
“There are plenty of familiar names and landmarks in this book to connect the present with the past,” said the review.
The reader will gain a greater perspective of what the country was like preceding the Civil War, it added.
“The institution of slavery is revealed in a way most texts avoid, and this heightened exploration sheds even greater light onto the motivations that perpetuated this atrocity for so long.”


What We Are Reading Today: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

Updated 28 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker

This is a harrowing and intricate nonfiction account of an all-American family of 12 (10 boys and two girls) born between 1945 and 1965. 

Bestselling and award-winning author Robert Kolker presents an interesting story about this large Colorado family plagued by schizophrenia. 

He also explores some of the research that has been done on this fairly common but devastating mental illness that affects one in one hundred people.

With clarity and compassion, Kolker uncovers one family’s unforgettable legacy of suffering, love, and hope. 

“Meticulous research combined with unbiased treatment of the facts leads to a very devastating true story like no other,” said a review in goodreads.com. “It is written clearly and gives a broad picture of ways to define and cure a disease which terrifies us.” 

“For a family, schizophrenia is, primarily, a felt experience, as if the foundation of the family is permanently tilted,” Kolker writes. 

His is a feat of narrative journalism but also a study in empathy; he unspools the stories with enormous compassion while tracing the scientific advances in treating the illness.