You’ll read a lot of reviews about how this book is “gripping” and “thrilling” and “riveting,” and I’m not going to argue with any of it. For the first two-thirds of this book, I couldn’t put it down. I knew what was going to happen, but I really couldn’t stop reading. I looked forward to reading all day when I was at work.
She Said is the story of how New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey investigated decades of rumors about producer Harvey Weinstein, and how the story they eventually published marked a cultural turning point.
Weinstein is truly awful, and reading about how he was finally brought down was incredibly satisfying. More importantly, though, the book delves into how sexual harassment cases are frequently dealt with in the American legal system (with settlements and nondisclosure agreements), and how this system is set up to benefit harassers much more than accusers. I empathized with the women in She Said, and their fears about coming forward. Most of us just want to live our unremarkable lives in peace, and going up against a system that’s been in place for decades is daunting beyond words. I’m so thankful that Kantor and Twohey (and their cohorts at the New Yorker, who published a similar takedown of Weinstein just days later) persevered, thankful that their editors and employers were patient as they developed the story, and thankful for the women who were willing to go public with something that we are routinely told we should be ashamed of. We are living in a time when the truth is so often obfuscated or glossed over, or simply ignored, and reading about so many people embracing uncomfortable truths and facing them head on felt incredibly empowering.
There’s something about true investigative journalism that is so powerful. When I read it, I feel a sort of thrill go through me with every new revelation. The excitement and suspense that you might feel when reading fiction is amplified in journalism, because the story that you’re reading is true.
She Said is also, a bit, the story of Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. As important as that story is, that part of the book has fewer behind-the-scenes details and feels less essential. Basically, Twohey and Kantor interviewed Ford after her Senate testimony, and while this was interesting and thoughtfully done, it’s mostly just a recap of Ford’s decision to come forward and her Senate testimony. There were details here that I didn’t know, but for me, the real power of this book is Weinstein’s downfall and the aftermath.