Former small time coke dealer turned jailbird turned journalist Niko Vorobyov travels the world (and I mean the whole world - this book is pleasantly exhaustive) to report on the history, operators, and future of the the half-a-trillion dollar per year industry that is the global drug market - Dopeworld, as Niko’s dubbed it. Anyone who’s interested in how crime syndicates have impacted life and governance around the world is going to find this book fascinating, and Vorobyov’s clear-eyed reporting as filtered through his ex-con’s voice keeps the dense history engaging. Yet I couldn’t help thinking as I read that this might just be the archetypal Gen X dad book - perfect for those pops who flip past the History Channel to binge Narcos and Drugs, Inc and still reminisce about the pit during the Chili Pepper’s set at Woodstock ’99. Whoever you are, if you want to know what’s going down with getting high, Niko Vorobyov’s got the straight dope, and after just a taste of these pages, he’ll have you hooked (a bad pun he'd surely give a begrudging groan of approval).
— Chris Lee
Hilary Levey Friedman is a sociologist at Brown University and President of the Rhode Island chapter of the National Organization of Women. When she offers up a feminist history of beauty pageants, you might make certain assumptions about how she will frame the history. But as the daughter of Miss America 1970, she brings a completely different perspective to the narrative, looking at how developments in pageantry mirrored the rise of women’s rights. Did you know that the sashes that contestants traditionally wear have links to the suffrage movement? Friedman looks at contests major and minor, including pageants linked to agriculture, children’s pageants, and the growth of specialized events to target Black, Asian, Latinx audiences. Notable is the schism between Miss America and Miss USA, one striving towards respectability and the other keeping its beauty focus. So what has led to the pageant’s declining influence? Could it be the rise of reality contests like The Bachelor, or perhaps it was the scandalous influence of the Trump years of Miss USA/Miss Universe? Friedman posits possible answers in this academically grounded, accessible, often fascinating history.
— Daniel Goldin