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A few must-add titles for your bookshelf

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How to Be an Antiracist 

By Ibram X. Kendi 

Dr. Kendi’s book is engaging, deeply researched, historically based, but not “academic.” It is jargon-free, first-person, autobiographical, candid, even confessional: He says he was “a believer more than a thinker” in college. And though his last book, Stamped from the Beginning, won the National Book Award, and he is the Director of the Antiracist Research Center at Boston University, he claims he’s not “an intellectual.” Yet his ideas are formidable. Policy is the core of this book. The socially constructed—and biologically nonexistent—category of “race,”and its progeny, “Black” and “white,” were built and perpetuated through racist policies. Chief among the policymakers, though he doesn’t say this explicitly, were judges, legislators, and administrators. These policymakers—historically, white men—propagated racist policies in the economic interests of their class. To be an antiracist, Dr. Kendi advises, one must work to disempower those policymakers and work to empower antiracist policies, those designed to reduce racial inequity. — Reviewed by Marc Lampson


Whale Day: And Other Poems 

By Billy Collins 

You should read any book by Billy Collins. This one is his 12th. Collins recently turned 80, so some of these poems nod at mortality, but not morbidly. His poems often invite you in with a commonplace event, one you’ve both had, like walking your dogs, or neither has had, like seeing a church mouse. But then the poem takes an unexpected turn, and you happily go along to land in a place you’ve never been before. And the traveling metaphor is apt because the poems mention Dublin, or Florida, or Paris, or Southern California—yet the places he really takes you to are not on the map, but some place funny, or insightful, or delightful. He’s reputed to be “America’s most popular poet,” or worse, “accessible,” which is a shame because that means many lit majors (let’s raise our hands) are therefore likely to pooh-pooh him. Don’t make that mistake. — Reviewed by Marc Lampson


Make the Rules or Your Rivals Will 

By G. Richard Shell

Although it was published in 2004, this is a must-read for any corporate counsel and even more so for corporate managers. This is not a typical book for lawyers; rather, Shell uses concepts found in the management discipline (for example, Porter’s Five Forces) to analyze legal strategy. The thesis of the book, as its title suggests, is that if business interests are not engaged in the making of the statutes and regulations that define markets, competitors in those markets will be more than happy to define and manipulate markets themselves, outside of the law. The book is well written and filled with interesting stories and case studies of companies that have benefited, or suffered from, particular legal strategies. The business law class in business schools is often like an introductory version of a traditional law school class; however, this book looks at the law through the lens of management and it is therefore essential reading for business students as well as corporate managers who must make risk decisions—and the lawyers who advise them. Written before the Great Recession, the lessons in the book are as relevant as ever more than 10 years later. — Reviewed by Ralph Flick


Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre 

By Max Brooks 

Max Brooks, author of World War Z, has created another great summer read in Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre. This time Brooks narrows his focus to the recently constructed (fictional) village of Greenloop, near Mt. Rainier. With six homes, common house, only one road in, and helipad, Greenloop was built to be both eco-friendly and remote—the founder having decided that the best connectivity to the outside world would be ground-wired rather than satellite. Big mistake! The novel features a Mt. Rainier eruption with all its destructive force, 11 well-developed, nature-loving characters trying to do good before simply trying to survive, and Sasquatches galore. What is not to love? All the village residents are either dead or missing, so Brooks is tasked with organizing what evidence is available, including the journal of resident Kate Holland, to try to answer, “What happened?” He masterfully reconstructs the scientific account, the horrific tale, and the brave saga of survival that may cause you to rethink your previous benign view of the Sasquatch. — Reviewed by Charles W. Bates


Art Law in a Nutshell (6th ed.)

By Leonard DuBoff, Christy King, and Michael Murray

There are some books that people who work in the many fields of the arts and humanities—artists, writers, museum directors and trustees, collectors, auctioneers—and the attorneys and consultants who advise them must have at their elbows. Art Law in a Nutshell is such a book. The sixth edition of this invaluable work from West Academic Publishing is filled with advice, instructions, examples, and, yes, wisdom. The topics covered in the book include international art, war, investments, auctions, contracts, authentication, insurance, collecting, taxation, support, the work of artists, copyright and trademark, moral and economic rights, freedom of expression, museums, and publicity. These are many of the areas with which people creating and managing art—and those advising them—must be familiar—at the risk of losing their work, money, rights, and reputations. Therein rests the great value of this small-but-essential book. — Reviewed by Chet Orloff 


The Art of Logic in an Illogical World 

By Eugenia Cheng

At a time when many arguments take place over social media and all of them are terrible, I can’t say that reading this book will help you win more arguments. However, it will provide a fascinating breakdown of logic and reasoning through the cold, calculated perspective of a mathematician. Even so, Cheng stresses the importance emotion plays in how we deliver and receive arguments. While the book may not make you a skilled public debater, you will almost certainly walk away from it with a new perspective on human thinking, the intersection of abstract reasoning with emotional argument, and maybe even how to deconstruct and evaluate your most deeply held beliefs. — Reviewed by Colin Rigley


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Recommended by WSBA Members, Written by WSBA Members

Helena Star: An Epic Adventure Through the Murky Underworld of International Drug Smuggling 

by Stewart Riley

In 1978, a ship called the Helena Star was captured off the Washington coast carrying 37 tons of marijuana with a street value of about $74 million. Another vessel was also seized, a 61-foot sailboat named the Joli, owned by freestyle skier Mike Lund. The story didn’t end there, however. It continued for decades after the seizure—to Lund’s arrest in 2001 to the sinking of the Helena Star in Tacoma in 2013. Stewart Riley, who represented the Helena Star ship captain, writes from his insider’s perspective about this years-long saga involving the Colombian-American drug cartel, smuggling, money laundering, suspicious deaths, and courtroom battles. 

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Taxation of Damage Awards and Settlement Payments 

by Robert W. Wood

Wood’s treatise has long been the go-to guide for tax issues surrounding settlement and recovery. This 2021 fifth edition expands on subjects and strategies critical to plaintiffs and defendants. Readers will find guidance on compliance, and more importantly, paths to increase plaintiffs’ after-tax recoveries and decrease defendants’ after-tax costs. It also brings us up to date on analysis and approaches necessitated by recent decisions by the IRS, federal courts, and Congress. If you regularly work in the litigation context, this book belongs in your library. — Reviewed by Jeremy Babener

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Green Crimes and International Criminal Law 

Edited by Regina M. Paulose

This book is all about crimes against the environment—crimes that not only impact wildlife and ecosystems, but humans as well. The authors discuss whether or not green crimes can fit into existing international criminal law frameworks and explore green crimes in the contexts of different parts of the world. Chapter topics include hydropower and crimes against humanity, environmental harm in conflicts in Africa, the Dakota Access Pipeline, the International Court for the Environment, and protecting against environmental damages in outer space. The book is recommended to academics and practicing lawyers interested in in expanding their ways of thinking about practice within the environmental or criminal law arenas.

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Legal Heroes in the Trump Era: Be Inspired. Expand Your Impact. Change the World. 

By Tahmina Watson

This book tells the stories of 14 “legal heroes” who, during Donald Trump’s presidency, took action in innovative and inspiring ways, from advocating for asylum seekers to defending environmental protections. The chapters feature attorneys including Bob Ferguson (Washington Attorney General), Traci Feit Love (president and executive director of Lawyers for Good Government), Michele Storms (executive director of the Washington chapter of the ACLU), Aneelah Afzali (executive director of the American Muslim Empowerment Network at the Muslim Association of Puget Sound), Matt Adams (legal director at Northwest Immigrant Rights Project), Takao Yamada (co-founder of the Washington Immigrant Defense Network), and others. 


Quick Takes

Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea, by Gary Kinder 

— Alex Tuttle

The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd 

— Mary Carter

The Power Broker, by Robert Caro 

— Hon. Sean P. O’Donnell

The Song of Achilles, by Madeline Miller

The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett 

— Shreya Ley 

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