Current Issues: Nonfiction Previews, Dec. 2021, Pt. 3 | Prepub Alert

Creating the Pfizer vaccine, learning to talk about race, and investigating contemporary U.S. debtors’ prisons.

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Bourla, Albert. Moonshot: Inside Pfizer’s Nine-Month Race To Make the Impossible Possible. HarperBusiness. Nov. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9780063210790. $29.99. BUSINESS/PHARMACEUTICALS

The chair and CEO of Pfizer, Bourla goes behind the scenes to chronicle the creationcover of Bourla's Moonshot of his company’s COVID vaccine, a process that under normal circumstances might have taken years. He credits the company’s values—Courage, Excellence, Equity, and Joy—for making it happen. He also delves into his own background as a veterinarian, a Greek immigrant, and the child of Holocaust survivors; note that proceeds from the book will go to UNICEF and the Holocaust Museum. With a 200,000-copy first printing.

Headlee, Celeste. Speaking of Race: Why Everybody Needs To Talk About Racism—and How To Do It. Harper Wave. Nov. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780063098152. $27.99. SELF-HELP/COMMUNICATION SKILLS

A cohost of the PBS weekly series Retro Report, Celeste Headlee identifies as a light-skinned Black Jew and says she has always wanted to talk proactively about race. She has found some of those discussions disappointing, however, because people seem to want to talk only from their own perspective. Here she aims to give us the tools to fearlessly discuss race issues across a range of perspectives, developing the empathy we need. With a 100,000-copy first printing.

Messenger, Tony. Profit and Punishment: How America Criminalizes the Poor in the Name of Justice. St. Martin’s. Dec. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9781250274649. $28.99. CD. SOCIAL SCIENCE

Debtor’s prison: it sounds Dickensian, but the contemporary equivalent is destroying many poor families. St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Messenger, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his series on debtors' prisons in Missouri, focuses on three single mothers in Missouri, Oklahoma, and South Carolina to reveal the damage done when state and local governments bolster failing budgets by levying fines and fees and forming partnership with for-profit companies that make money from those incarcerated for minor crimes. With a 60,000-copy first printing.

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Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Book Review; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president of the National Book Critics Circle, to which she has just been reelected.

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