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Some People Need Killing
Cover of Some People Need Killing
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.
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.
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Awards-
About the Author-
  • Patricia Evangelista is a trauma journalist and former investigative reporter for the Philippine news company Rappler. Her reporting on armed conflict and disaster was awarded the Kate Webb Prize for exceptional journalism in dangerous conditions. She was a Headlands Artist in Residence, a New America ASU Future Security Fellow, and a fellow of the Logan Nonfiction Program, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma. Her work has earned local and international acclaim. She lives in Manila.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 28, 2023
    In this shattering debut, Filipina journalist Evangelista interviews detainees, families, and key government officials to illuminate the Philippines’ brutal war on drugs. Even before Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in as president of the Philippines in 2016, he was known for his tough stance on drugs, and for his lack of distinction between dealers and users. As mayor of Davao City, he sanctioned death squads that assassinated citizens suspected of being involved with narcotics. After he became president, Duterte inflated the number of homicides in the country and tied them to drug abuse in order to justify his use of secret police to kill suspected drug offenders. When media pushback and human rights campaigns finally forced Duterte to put an end to the national police’s involvement in 2017, the death toll stood at over 7,000; but the blood didn’t stop running, according to Evangelista, who reveals that vigilantes, paid by police, took over the killings. With rigorous reporting, Evangelista painstakingly lays out how Duterte gathered political power and convinced his constituents to support the slaughter. Most chillingly, she speaks to several ardent Duterte followers and allies who’ve come to regret their support for the ex-president, who left office in 2022. The result is an astonishing and frightening exposé that won’t soon be forgotten. Agent: David Granger, Aevitas Creative Management.

  • Kirkus

    September 15, 2023
    A Filipino reporter's powerful chronicle of the brutal anti-drug crusade and violent toll of President Rodrigo Duterte. From his first day in office, Duterte, whose term lasted from 2016 to 2022, promised death to those involved in the drug trade. As field correspondent for the digital news company Rappler in Manila, Evangelista found her job morphing into a chronicle of the extrajudicial killings that occurred over the seven months after Duterte was elected president on May 30, 2016. The killings were carried out in secrecy by pro-Duterte hit squads and vigilantes acting on the president's vigorous public calls to target any suspected drug dealers and pushers. Since he declared his "war on drugs" upon taking office, the death toll has topped 12,000, according to the Human Rights Watch. The author focuses on a few of the most horrific cases, detailed in interviews with witnesses and survivors. She also shows how Duterte contributed to the killing culture with statements that dehumanized the victims: "Frankly, are they human? What is your definition of a human being?" Many of the deaths occurred as collateral violence, as innocents, especially children, were caught amid the gunfire. To provide context for the madness, Evangelista reviews the Philippines' colonial history, first under Spain and then the U.S., describing how dictators like Ferdinand Marcos were blatantly supported by the U.S. before true democracy emerged in the 1980s after the "Edsa Revolution," led by Corazon Aquino. The author also chronicles the turbulent story of her grandfather, Mario Chanco, an early Filipino journalist, and offers her recollections of growing up in a country where democracy was teetering on the brink, ultimately pushed over by Duterte, "the punisher" from Mindanao. Evangelista also includes the voices of Duterte's supporters, who explain that "to be Duterte was to belong." Heartbreaking personal stories underscore the consequences of a government-incited extrajudicial rampage.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from September 1, 2023
    In this meticulously researched account of the Philippines' six-year drug war that coincided with the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte (2016-22), Evangelista reveals the startling ease with which a country can welcome authoritarianism. At the center of this narrative is Duterte, who promised to eliminate drug dealers as well as people addicted to drugs. Evangelista does a tremendous job of placing him within a historical context. Detailing the aftershocks of colonialism and dictatorship and the current state of democracy that made Duterte's reign possible, she offers a crash course on the history of the Philippines that will compel unfamiliar readers. But it's her unparalleled skill as a trauma reporter that makes this work memorable. Stories of the dead are illuminated through police reports, interviews with survivors and death squad members, and the narrative of Evangelista's own career in journalism. The bleak, gripping prose is reminiscent of a crime novel. It is gruesome without feeling exploitative. Evangelista unravels the web of dehumanization and everyday failures that led to Duterte's rise, leaving the reader with few answers and an unsettling picture of the future. Analytical, ambitious, and told with empathy, this will stand as a definitive historical account of the Philippines' drug war.

    COPYRIGHT(2023) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Library Journal

    October 13, 2023

    As an investigative journalist for a news outlet in the Philippines, Evangelista provides an upfront view of the drug war campaign initiated by Rodrigo Duterte, the former president of the Southeast Asian country, during his presidency and his two-plus decades as mayor of Davao City. In both roles, Duterte was known for his volatile behavior and inflammatory rhetoric. His promises to kill alleged drug dealers and users were not taken literally during his campaign, but this book shows how his orders were carried out by both police and vigilante groups as early as his first day as president. Back then, Evangelista worked the overnight shift, which meant risking her own safety as she went from the site of one killing to another to document the deaths and photograph the bodies. She explores the impact of the killings on the families left behind, which reveals the tragedy of numerous unnecessary deaths. While Duterte denies knowledge of the extrajudicial killings, the author's deeply researched reporting and use of Duterte's own statements indicate that he supported and encouraged them. VERDICT This is an important, credible record of the war on drugs in the Philippines.--Rebecca Mugridge

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Some People Need Killing
A Memoir of Murder in My Country
Patricia Evangelista
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