Amazon Book Review Podcast: The best books of August, and interview with George Takei

Jon Foro on August 05, 2019


It's the cycle of life: On the first of each and every month — whether it falls on a weekday or not — we turn our virtual calendar page and pr?esent a new collection of our picks for the best books of the month. August is sometimes the calm before publishing's storm of Big Books that comes in September and August, but we had no problems putting together a list of books we loved. For the most recent episode of the Amazon Book Review Podcast, we sat down and talked about five of our selections, including our spotlight pick, Ian Urbina's The Outlaw Ocean, a catalog of high crimes on the high seas — all of which are true, a bit shocking, and completely riveting. 

After that comes Adrian's interview with George Takei, whom you might recognize as Captain Sulu from the original Star Trek, and more recently through his civil rights engagement and his support for democracy. His recent graphic-memoir, They Called Us Enemy, tells the story of his family’s incarceration in the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. It's a timely and often infuriating tale, but surprisingly not a bitter one, and we made it one of our featured picks for the best books of last month.

Listen below, and you can find more author interviews and book-talk in our podcast archive, and you can subscribe via iTunes or TuneIn. Have a topic you'd like to hear us talk about? Shoot us an email at bookpod (at)

Show highlights:

The Best Books of the Month:

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (Adrian, 1:25): Ware's latest blends superstitious dread with high-tech surveillance into an intoxicating cocktail of a thriller that goes down smooth and then creeps up on you before you realize what’s happening.

The Whisper Man by Alex North (Seira, 3:47): A spine-tinglingly creepy novel that delivers strong twists and a truly surprising ending. 

The Ghosts of Eden Park by Karen Abbott (Erin, 5:22): A rollicking historical true crime story in which you might find yourself rooting for the villain—until you remember his very real brutality and the different set of rules that benefited him as a person of means, and stature, and a certain celebrity.

Chances Are... by Richard Russo (Chris, 6:59): Both a mystery and a thoughtful book on aging, memory, friendship, and expectation—with a genuinely unexpected payoff. 

The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina (Jon, 9:32): With smugglers, traffickers, pirates, and poachers filling its more than 400 pages, The Outlaw Ocean is lluminating, terrifying, and often dismaying. It’s also unique, vitally important, and strangely thrilling. 

Author interview:

George Takei on They Called Us Enemy (15:11)

"I remember that morning when two soldiers carrying bayonetted rifles [marched] up our driveway, stomped at the porch, and with their fists began pounding on the front door — and ordered us out of our home. We were innocent Japanese-Americans — Americans of Japanese ancestry. My mother was born in Sacramento, my father was a San Franciscan. We were born in Los Angeles. And yet because of these faces — because we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor — we were rounded up and imprisoned."

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