Joseph Barbato

Joseph Barbato is an author and journalist whose books include Writing for a Good Cause and several literary anthologies. He is a former columnist and contributing editor at Publishers Weekly, and has written about books and authors for the Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Newsday, the Progressive, Smithsonian, the San Francisco Chronicle, America, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

A long-time contributor to Kirkus Reviews, he has served as a juror for the Kirkus Prize in nonfiction.

Mr. Barbato was born and raised in New York City and earned an M.A. in American studies at New York University, where he worked for many years as a writer and editor. He was co-editor of The Remington Review, a literary magazine, and served twice as president of Washington Independent Writers, a regional organization of freelance writers.

A former editorial director at The Nature Conservancy, he has been a consultant to MIT, the Brookings Institution, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Red Cross, Feeding America, Oxford University, and many other nonprofits. His work for clients has included writing projects on science, health, urban life, and cultural affairs as well as public policy issues.

He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.

Book Reviews by Joseph Barbato

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“Intense, well-researched, and highly readable, this super-candid biography will have wide appeal.”

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“A detailed and devastating portrait of a company whose influence reverberates throughout American society.

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“Often sad, sometimes funny, and always absorbing, this unusually candid memoir will be a must-read for Newman fans.”

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The End of Solitude is bright, readable, and absorbing—pure Deresiewicz.”

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Giuliani is a well-written, balanced, and unvarnished portrait of a public figure whose downfall will sadden most readers.”  

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“The quality of Ann Cleeves’ writing far surpasses that of the usual police procedural.

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“Nicely crafted, the book will appeal to hard-core Ness fans and true-crime freaks.”

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“Deeply researched and written with authority, Snyder’s book examines virtually every aspect of Frankfurter’s career and, despite its length, remains wonderfully readable and accessible.”

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The Facemaker proves an absorbing story of a remarkable surgeon rising to the demands of the most horrifying wounds of modern warfare.”

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“Often viciously funny, this book is a breezy balm for the anti-Trump crowd.”

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“A thoughtful, revealing book about a horrid man and serial predator who produced some fine movies.”

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Bad City, a startling tale of people looking the other way and behaving ever so badly, never lets up.

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Casey Sherman has had enormous commercial success as an author.

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American Cartel joins a small shelf of important books, including Dopesick and Empire of Pain, that fully capture the greed and corruption fueling the nation’s d

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“engaging, gossipy, and revealing—a look behind the curtain at the wondrous wizard of words. Fans will love it.”

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Even amid all his late-life venting in The Last Days, Geoff Dyer manages to please once again with his artful sentences and close observations.”

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considerable detective work, which overlooks few details. White has certainly written the definitive book on Jane Stanford’s death.”

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A sometimes painful read, this revealing deep dive into George Floyd’s life places his tragic story in the broader context of race in America.”

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“Exhaustive yet eminently readable, Paradise Falls is a wonderful achievement—a splendid work of storytelling.”

It all began as a utopian vision.

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“A superb and well-researched account of a notorious chemical and the clash it has provoked between science and corporate doubters.”

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“Often riveting, well-researched, and utterly convincing, this book sounds a frightening alarm about unreliable expert testimony in the courtroom.”

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“With bright thumbnails on key figures and entertaining vignettes on memorable moments, The BBC sheds considerable light on the history of a leading broadcaster.”

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“will give health policy makers much to consider about ways to improve care.

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“Die-hard Atwood fans will love it.”

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“This is delightful old-school mystery fiction, filled with humor, suspense, and a knack for twisty surprises that Lovesey has made all his own.”

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“Vivid, moving, revealing, and highly readable, The Helpers deserves a high place on the Covid-19 bookshelf.”

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“A frightening indictment of the Russian president, this book traces the long road leading up to today’s headlines.”

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“succeeds in capturing the full story behind a notorious murderer’s brazen quest to avoid the death penalty by any means possible.”

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“Gottlieb’s deeply affecting book is a loving tribute to a great Swedish-American actress—an absolutely must-read for Garbo freaks.”

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“This revealing, nicely crafted account of rock performers from Bill Haley and His Comets to Pink Floyd will appeal greatly to nostalgic rock fans.”

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A thoughtful and admiring account of a young British man’s rise from lackluster roots to world fame as a science fiction writer.”

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The Least of Us confirms his place as a leading chronicler of an American nightmare.”

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A splendid appreciation, from one master to another, written with great warmth, fervor, and intelligence.”

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“A fascinating page-turner, Rogues’ Gallery will appeal to true crime buffs and anyone interested in the dark side of life in late 19th century New York City.”

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The humorist S. J. Perelman (1904–1979) was an American original. His work has sat little-noticed in a Fireside trade paperback edition for years.

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The Rage of Innocence is an important and timely book—an intelligent, compassionate, and indispensable argument on behalf of Black children.”

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“Shadmi’s deeply absorbing and moving biography will appeal to Dracula afficionados of all ages.”

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“Authoritative, compassionate, and valuable, this book provides a fresh understanding of the many dangers of addiction . . .”

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“A highly readable, monumental account of the idealism and suffering of the most international army ever assembled since the Crusades.”

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“Sam Kean’s crisp, bright storytelling makes these tales of out-of-control scientists irresistible.”

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“A revealing, highly readable account of megalomania run amok.”

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“A bright, deeply researched narrative that will fascinate feminists and history buffs.”

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“Well-written, unexpectedly engaging, and perhaps a bit overlong, After Cooling is a knockout debut by a gifted writer.”

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“A nicely crafted popular history, Battle for the Big Top will appeal to anyone who has ever wondered about the men who gave us the thrill of three-ring circuses.”  

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“Borchert’s history is bound to appeal to readers interested in the American 1930s, the careers of noted writers, and the U.S.

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“Jenny Diski is an absorbing, savagely witty, insatiably curious, and gifted writer. She is direct, unafraid, and full of surprises.”

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“Many readers will wonder what future generations will make of this sad and epic account of failed national leadership during a health catastrophe.

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“Both captivating and frightening, Don’t Call it a Cult will astonish most readers.”

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“In this short, stunning work, with his inimitable use of language, Baldwin distills the essence of his pain and wisdom and points a way for our own time.”

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“In these pages, ideas and creativity still matter, making this welcome book a cause for celebration.”

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“illuminating, well-written, and offers sharp insights into fascism’s strong appeal, for some, in times of turbulent change.”

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“will appeal to visionaries yearning for an end to man-made divides and the deliberate building of bridges of kindness and compassion.”

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In November 1995, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) sold out London’s Royal Albert Hall (capacity: 5,900) for a lecture entitled “Does God Throw Dice in Black Holes?” A physicist ha

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at once painful to read but vitally necessary if Americans are to understand the ‘widely ignored’ epidemic that affects millions in ways we still do not fully understand.”

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“Filled with vivid first-person accounts, Traveling Black is a superb history that captures a shameful aspect of the American story.”

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“Humans have probably been extinguishing bird species for thousands of years,” writes Michelle Nijhuis in her absorbing history of species conservation, Beloved Beasts.

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“An affecting blend of memoir and history, Shaking the Gates of Hell offers an unflinching account of a family in a tumultuous time.”

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“In Gates’ capable hands The Black Church is a stirring story, told with compassion, respect, and not a little awe.”

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“Provocative, intelligent, and useful, Tangled Up in Blue will help many readers understand the nuances shaping the present crisis in American policing.”

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Nearly two dozen outstanding articles on climate change, just in time for the U.S. return to the Paris accords. Now, what?

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American history is “littered with utopian experiments that began with giddy promise and ended in depressing failure,” writes Thomas Healy. In Soul City, he tells one such story.

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Ram Dass (1931–2019), formerly Richard Alpert, is best known as the Harvard psychologist and researcher (his partner was Timothy Leary) who was fired by the university for his controversial experim

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The “encrappification” of America dates back centuries, writes Rutgers University historian Wendy A. Woloson.

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“A challenging read that illuminates harsh truths of our time.”

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“Both fascinating and troubling, this thoughtful history reveals the roots of the official spin that dominates much of today’s news.”

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“a solid, valuable work on a critical aspect of America’s wartime quest for an atomic bomb.”

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“Few other books reveal the fascinating inner journey that transformed Eleanor from an emotionally choked-off young woman into a mature leader who inspired millions.”

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Official denial never goes out of style. In our own time, an Iraqi spokesman famously declared: "There are no American infidels in Baghdad.

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The Grifter’s Club will appeal to political junkies who can’t get enough of the present national moment.”

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“A small, fun, and insightful book, She Come By It Natural can be enjoyed on its own or as a perfect companion to Smarsh’s Heartland.”

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Atlantic staff writer Olga Khazan tries to do much too much in her well-written, often absorbing work of memoir and reportage, Weird: The Power of Being an Outsider in an Insider World

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“Engaging and provocative, Diamond’s encyclopedic meditation will certainly help readers—no matter where they live—think about what lies ahead for the outlying areas of our cities.”

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“Highly readable, A Traitor to His Species ably details the ‘uncomfortable debate about the proper balance between animal rights and human interests . . .’”

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Jill Lepore, the Harvard historian and New Yorker writer, argues that a company you’ve never heard of “helped invent the data-mad and near-totalitarian twenty-first century.” Moreover, she

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A sobering, scarifying account that leaves the reader exhausted and in awe at the author’s endurance during these ritual gatherings of the MAGA tribe.”

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On May 10, 1869, as the last ceremonial rail was bolted down at Promontory, Utah, a San Francisco newspaper declared America’s first transcontinental railroad a “victory over space, the elements, a

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“Kerri Arsenault’s portrayal of the devastating impact of unregulated capitalism on the lives of poor, mainly dark-skinned people is a serious indictment of the American way.”