Book Review: #Newsfail by Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny

From the hosts of Citizen Radio, this book covers important topics with smarts and humor.

If you aren’t already listening to Citizen Radio — and you should be — #Newsfail, written by hosts Jamie Kilstein and Allison Kilkenny, will convince you it’s worth your time.

The cover of "#Newsfail"

Chances are, if you’re reading P-Mag, you’ll probably agree with the bulk of this book off the bat — they tackle media bias, feminism, rape culture, gun control, war, and veganism from a super-lefty standpoint — but that doesn’t mean you should brush it off as part of an echo chamber that will tell you what you want to hear. You’ll probably pick up something you didn’t think of, even if you consider yourself as progressive as it gets. The authors take these important issues and hit on them from a radical angle. Radical, not ridiculous. And they do so with just the right mix of smarts, humor, and a hint of self-deprecation that makes this an easy and conversational read.

The book is a little bit memoir and a lot of political and social commentary. It opens with some insight into the authors’ lives— how they met, their early relationship, when they lived in a car and traveled the country, when Jamie was banned from Conan for talking about drones, and when they interviewed Ralph Nader from their bathroom. You get enough of a view into their background to see that they are the real deal, and not just writing about progressive politics as some sort of passing fad.

I was, initially, put off by their takedown of the Rally to Restore Sanity, mainly because I went to it and the signs were funny. But I kept reading, and I kept thinking, and they were right. What we need isn’t for the lefties to embrace passivity and nice words; what we need is for the left to fight harder. If right-wingers aren’t going to shut the hell up, we aren’t going to make things better by letting them yell over us. The point is, the so-called liberal media doesn’t go far enough. We need more, and we need honesty and more integrity. We also need less Wolf Blitzer.

I don’t want to spoil the points of the book, because when I went into it I didn’t know exactly what it was going to be, and that was fantastic. I found myself laughing, raging, and wondering if I could reach into the book and high-five the authors as I went. I wasn’t a Citizen Radio listener before — I’d heard of it, but never checked it out — and now I’m an avid fan. I’d recommend checking this out as soon as possible, and if you can, maybe mailing a copy to those racist, sexist, homophobic right-wing relatives just for the fun of trolling.

5/5 stars

#Newsfail is available now from Simon And Schuster.

I received a free electronic copy of this book through NetGalley. This review is my own uninfluenced opinion.

By [E] Liza

PhD student. Knitter. Brooklynite. Long-distance dog mom. Reluctant cat lady. Majestic unicorn whose hair changes color with the wind.

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