Smash, Smash, Smash:
The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker
by Philip Fairbanks
August 7 - September 1, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
"That woman was in danger, so I ran up behind him with a hatchet... Smash, smash, SUH-MASH!!!"
Millions of people heard these words and shared the viral video with their friends. This mysterious surfing hitchhiker then vanished as quickly as he appeared, only to reappear on many late night talk shows and fan videos. But 3 months later, he was arrested and charged with killing a prominent New Jersey lawyer... in self defense against a sex assault.
Who is this mysterious hitchhiker? What was with that lawyer who drugged and assaulted him? Why would the investigators destroy evidence, tamper with witnesses, and shut the public out of the trial?
For almost a decade, the public was kept in the dark: until investigative journalist Philip Fairbanks searched for the truth in mountains of government records, witness statements, and hard evidence. At long last, he found the answers to these burning, aching questions...
And they will surprise you.
Praise for Smash, Smash, Smash: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker:
"Phil is not the kind of journalist who files a story and gets on with his life. That passion and integrity shine through in this book, and generally in the way Phil makes you care about the people he’s covering….
When I read this book, as with so many things Phil has written, I feel that I am in good hands, being carefully guided to the truth."
~ Alissa Fleck
(Newsweek, SF Gate, Houston Chronicle)
"In his latest book, Philip Fairbanks wields a wealth of laboriously earned evidence and detail, the product of five years of research, to tell a harrowing and heartbreaking tale nobody (until him) deemed worthy of telling, and some would rather remain untold….
In his characteristically engaging style and with a dexterous balance of compassion, curiosity, and analysis, the author walks the reader through a hellish nightmare; one that Kai was born into and in which he continues to exist."
~ Wendy Painting, PhD
(Author, Aberration in the Heartland of the Real: The Secret Lives of Timothy McVeigh)
Genre: True Crime
Published by: Is It Wet Yet Press
Publication Date: February 2023
Number of Pages: 456
ISBN: 9781959947998 (ISBN10: 1959947990)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads
Read an excerpt:
SMASH SMASH SMASH: The True Story of Kai the Hitchhiker is the culmination of years of careful research and investigation by author Philip Fairbanks into the life of Caleb McGillivary, better known to the world as Kai the Hitchhiker. Kai captured the world’s attention in 2013 via the magic (and the curse) of social media when he came to the rescue of a woman being assaulted on the side of a highway, after which he quietly slipped away from the scene. He was soon brought back into the limelight through the well-meaning efforts of a young journalist wanting to follow up on the mysterious cult hero.
Fame provided Kai some time in the public eye, but it appears for the most part that he really just wanted to be left to his own devices and lifestyle: living freely on the road, hitchhiking, working on his music, and surfing. He gained thousands of followers on social media but invariably encountered those with their own agendas for Kai’s fame.
Later, Kai made headlines again when he was convicted of murdering a prominent attorney in Clark, New Jersey, although he continually maintained it was in self-defense. Journalist Philip Fairbanks, who had been following Kai’s amazing story, began to dig deeper into his claims, and this book is the result of years of research, questioning, and interviews. I was shocked by his findings.
Kai’s initial story, his quick and decisive rescue of a stranger, was an Internet sensation. He doesn’t fit the image of the knight in shining armor and, in fact, represents a completely different trope come to life: a hatchet-wielding hitchhiker, which social media and late-night talk show hosts were quick to capitalize on.
Kai’s story, presented by Fairbanks, is heartbreaking. From his childhood to his trial, Kai’s life was a complete nightmare. Yet through it all, he seems to have developed a completely unanticipated positive outlook while still clearly seeing and understanding what was being perpetrated against him.
Fairbanks does a fantastic job laying the groundwork for how Kai came to be where he is. Additionally, his overview of the history and culture of hitchhiking was interesting and a surprise to me. Better still, his extensive coverage of the political history, its current climate in New Jersey, and how it related to Kai’s conviction was eye-opening and horrifying.
The book covers Kai’s emergence as a cult hero and the subsequent media aftermath, but it is brief. The story here is what came later. I recommend SMASH SMASH SMASH: THE TRUE STORY OF KAI THE HITCHHIKER to true crime readers and those who remember this amazing incident but what to know the rest of the story.
Philip Fairbanks has been a published writer for over 20 years. Most of his writing has been in the field of entertainment reporting and investigative journalism as well as certain academic subjects. He has appeared multiple times in the CUNY graduate paper The Advocate (who published an article by Fairbanks last June), SUNY art journal Afterimage, Ghettoblaster features, interviews and reviews, UK newspaper The Morning Star, UK lit journal White Chimney, Impose, Delusions of Adequacy, and many more print and online publications have published him.
His first book covered issues such as the Epstein scandal, the Finders cult, online grooming and exploitation of children, and the UK grooming epidemic. He felt it was important to write a book on institutional pedophilia that dispels some of the wild disinfo related to Qanon and Pizzagate. Philip is also a voice actor and narrated the audiobook for the first book and is in the process of recording the audiobook for Smash, Smash, Smash.
Catch Up With Philip Fairbanks:
BookBub - @kafkaguy
Twitter - @kafkaguy
Facebook - @truestoryofkai
Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and opportunities to WIN in the giveaway!
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Philip Fairbanks. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.