Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators by Ronan Farrow
Published by Little, Brown and Company on October 15th, 2019
Genres: Crime, Non-Fiction
“In the end, the courage of women can’t be stamped out. And stories – the big ones, the true ones – can be caught but never killed.”
To be honest, I wasn’t too familiar with Ronan Farrow’s work. I hadn’t watched his TV show and I only knew about his famous family. But now I even want to read his book on diplomacy!
Before I get started into the review, I want to say that people keep comparing this book to She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. I think you should read both. While both books talk about Harvey Weinstein, they also cover different ground.
In Catch and Kill, Farrow exposes serial abusers and a group of powerful interests hell-bent on covering up the truth, at any cost. In 2017, a routine network television investigation led Farrow to a story only whispered about before: one of Hollywood’s most powerful producers was a predator, protected by fear, wealth, and a conspiracy of silence.
As Farrow drew closer to the truth, shadowy operatives launched a campaign of intimidation, threatening his career, following his every move and weaponizing an account of abuse in his own family.
Catch and Kill breaks devastating new stories about the rampant abuse of power and sheds light on investigations that shook the culture.
This book is 100 percent the definition of “unputdownable.” It reads very much like a crime thriller that has you on the edge of your seat and gasping out loud at some of the twists and turns because this story seems outrageous.
It almost feels like a work of fiction, but sadly it’s all real. There are spies, double agents, secret foreign agencies working overtime to bury stories.
I thought I knew most of Weinstein’s case and I thought I couldn’t get any angrier. I guess not. This book goes into depth Weinstein’s influence in the film industry. It’s actually quite frightening to know how much hold he had over people.
The man is not a saint. Trust me, there is no love lost between us. But he isn’t guilty of anything worse than what a million other men in this business do.
And to all the people who say, “Well, why didn’t the women report it? Why don’t more women come forward?” these women did report it! They reported it but then were coerced into signing NDAs. Weinstein ruined lives and careers without a second thought. He went so far as to hire powerful network of secret intelligence to do so.
Weinstein’s behaviour is disgusting, there’s no room for debate there. But what really sickened me was how many people he hired to cover it up. People actively looked the other way and let him get away with it. Time and time again.
He’s not even really hiding. I mean, the way he does it, so many people are involved and see what’s happening. But everyone’s too scared to say anything.
Farrow’s work as well as Kantor and Towhey’s can’t be overstated. They put their lives on the line to continue their investigation. Farrow was spied on, personally threatened, and he still pursued it.
Although he doesn’t focus too much on his own life, I did appreciate the tiny tidbits we got. We saw how the story consumed his life.
You could also see every time how he seemed to genuinely care about these women. And I suspect a lot of it has to do with his own personal experience seeing his sister go through something similar. You can see that he respects his sources’ boundaries — actually, you can see this very blatantly in the Catch and Kill podcast, which I highly recommend as well. It’s a great addition to the book.
Catch and Kill feels like a traditional detective mystery. It reads very much like a cat and mouse chase. Farrow becomes paranoid and he doesn’t know who he can trust. It’s fast-paced and impossible to put down. And the best part reading it now? You know they caught him. I finished this book right before Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison. It can’t fix all the suffering he caused to countless of women, but I hope it brings some peace to these people.
If you’re looking to understand the power structures put in place that enable abusers like Weinstein, then I’d recommend this book. You’ll see how wealthy and connected men can use surveillance and intimidation tactics to silence victims of abuse. And it’s truly the women who risk everything who bring the truth to light and spark a global movement.