It began as rumours. Whispers at dinner parties. Warnings about bad dates with a Canadian celebrity. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, superstar CBC broadcaster Jian Ghomeshi revealed his interest in "rough sex" in a long Facebook post, and a scandal of unprecedented scale descended on the radio host.
What the public did not know was that months before Ghomeshi's emotional post, Canadaland podcaster Jesse Brown and Toronto Star journalist Kevin Donovan were quietly pursuing serious allegations against him. In Secret Life, Donovan takes us inside the Star's investigation. Step by step, he explores the story as only he can: the media frenzy, his own personal and professional doubts, the women who came forward with stories about an alleged dark side of a national idol, and Ghomeshi's ignominious firing and dramatic criminal trial. Taking us behind the scenes, Donovan sheds light on the journalistic process and the complexity of gathering information about a highly sensitive matter from named and confidential sources, including those women who feared it was their word against a beloved public figure's.
Secret Life is a thought-provoking account of the landmark Ghomeshi exposé; that sparked a nation-wide discussion on sexual assault, the cult of celebrity, and the politics of power and gender in the workplace.
Toronto Star reporter Donovan (Crime Story) has produced a page-turner, documenting behind-the-scenes efforts to expose dozens of sexual assault allegations that generated headlines and, eventually, criminal charges and trial for one of Canada's most recognized radio broadcasters, Jian Ghomeshi, whose 2016 acquittal met with public protests. Donovan's no-nonsense approach dedicated to promoting continued discussion of violence against women is an utterly unglamorous, realistic look at the daily grind of investigative journalism, the mechanics of putting together a story that, even in an electronic age, requires classic gumshoe skills and teamwork with researchers, editors, and legal advisors. Donovan can come off as hardened and cynical, and some may disagree with his decision to republish the allegations of some anonymous women whose stories originally appeared in the Star but who asked for their words not to be included in the book for fear of being retraumatized. There are graphic descriptions of violence. Donovan explores the broader issues of workplace harassment and celebrity culture at Ghomeshi's former employer, the CBC, as well as the machinations inside the disgraced host's advisory team, but coverage of the trial itself seems too condensed. The conclusion could have benefited from a greater exploration of related issues, including whether such violence can be properly addressed within an adversarial court system.
Customer ReviewsSee All
An account leading up to the trials and beyond that lays out the facts of the story. The journalists account is well worth it, giving the reader insight into the behind the scenes workings of a national newspaper and the serious business that investigates & informs readers. The writing is steady, the tone is strong, making this book an informative read about one of the most sensational stories to hit the headlines.
Nothing but the truth
Never mind what happened in court, if ever there was a doubt as to how Jian Ghomeshi really behaved towards women, these doubts are now put to rest. This is an utterly believable piece of investigative journalism which started the whole process. Most of the women assaulted by the star, but were afraid to lay charges, are interviewed in this book by a very compassionate and careful Kevin Donovan. Reading this account has really opened my eyes to the issue of sexual assault, why women hesitate to report it, and how the courts have continually failed to prosecute the perpetrators.