Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Magazine article The New Yorker

Briefly Noted

Article excerpt

Crisis of Conscience, by Tom Mueller (Riverhead). This trenchant examination of whistle-blowing is based on interviews with more than two hundred people who have exposed wrongdoing in areas such as national security, finance, and health care. Whistle-blowers emerge as “prickly and doctrinaire”—under ordinary circumstances, stubborn to a fault—but this is what enables them to place conscience above institutional pressures, often at great personal cost, legal protections notwithstanding. The book went to press before a whistle-blower’s complaint triggered a Presidential impeachment inquiry, but Mueller notes that, under the current Administration, the federal government has seen a surge in leaks and whistle-blowing, which, amid our present troubles, he sees as both a “symptom and a potential cure.”

The Collector of Leftover Souls, by Eliane Brum, translated from the Portuguese by Diane Grosklaus Whitty (Graywolf). A Brazilian journalist, aiming to transcend reductive stereotypes of her country—“Carnival and soccer. Favelas, butts, and violence”—writes about what she calls “everyday insurrections.” In poetic, immersive essays, Brum assembles a chorus of “many Brazilian tongues”: forest-dwelling midwives, elderly-care-home residents, a terminal cancer patient, far-flung Amazon populations. In a São Paulo favela, she investigates not violence and death but “the delicate things that made life possible,” challenging herself to maintain an “eye of astonishment” while chronicling inequality. …

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