Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country
TIME’S #1 NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR • A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR • A “riveting” (The Atlantic) account of the Philippines’ state-sanctioned killings of its citizens under President Rodrigo Duterte, hailed as “a journalistic masterpiece” (The New Yorker)
“Tragic, elegant, vital . . . Evangelista risked her life to tell this story.”—Tara Westover, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Educated
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN’S PRIZE • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Economist, Chicago Public Library, CrimeReads, The Mary Sue
“My job is to go to places where people die. I pack my bags, talk to the survivors, write my stories, then go home to wait for the next catastrophe. I don’t wait very long.”
Journalist Patricia Evangelista came of age in the aftermath of a street revolution that forged a new future for the Philippines. Three decades later, in the face of mounting inequality, the nation discovered the fragility of its democratic institutions under the regime of strongman Rodrigo Duterte.
Some People Need Killing is Evangelista’s meticulously reported and deeply human chronicle of the Philippines’ drug war. For six years, Evangelista documented the killings carried out by police and vigilantes in the name of Duterte’s war on drugs—a crusade that has led to the slaughter of thousands—immersing herself in the world of killers and survivors and capturing the atmosphere of terror created when an elected president decides that some lives are worth less than others.
The book takes its title from a vigilante, whose words demonstrated the psychological accommodation many across the country had made: “I’m really not a bad guy,” he said. “I’m not all bad. Some people need killing.”
A profound act of witness and a tour de force of literary journalism, Some People Need Killing is a brilliant dissection of the grammar of violence and an investigation into the human impulses to dominate and resist.
Praise for Some People Need Killing: A Memoir of Murder in My Country
“A journalistic masterpiece . . . One of the most remarkable pieces of narrative nonfiction I have read in a long, long time.”—David Remnick, The New Yorker
“Evangelista makes us feel the fear and grief that she felt as she chronicled what Duterte was doing to her country. But appealing to our emotions is only part of it; what makes this book so striking is that she wants us to think about what happened, too. She pays close attention to language, and not only because she is a writer. Language can be used to communicate, to deny, to threaten, to cajole. Duterte’s language is coarse and degrading. Evangelista’s is evocative and exacting.”—The New York Times
“Riveting . . . Evangelista’s book is an extraordinary testament to half a decade of state-sanctioned terror. It’s also a timely warning for the state of democracy.”—The Atlantic
“In this blindingly ambitious, unfathomably brave, fiercely reported book, Patricia Evangelista exposes the evil in her country with perfect clarity fueled by profound rage, her narrative voice at once utterly brutal and terrifyingly vulnerable. You may think you are inured to shock, but this book is an exploding bomb that will damage you anew, making you wiser as it does so.”—Andrew Solomon, National Book Award–winning author of The Noonday Demon and Far and Away: How Travel Can Change the World
“In this haunting work of memoir and reportage, Patricia Evangelista both describes the origins of autocratic rule in the Philippines, and explains its universal significance. The cynicism of voters, the opportunism of Filipino politicians, the appeal of brutality and violence to both groups—all of this will be familiar to readers, wherever they are from.”—Anne Applebaum, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism
“This is a magnificent, brave book about the extrajudicial murders in the Philippines under Rodrigo Duterte. It is written in taut, powerful prose. . . . One of the most important books I’ve ever read.”—Professor Suzannah Lipscomb