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BREAKOUT NATIONS

IN PURSUIT OF THE NEXT ECONOMIC MIRACLES

The head of Morgan Stanley’s emerging markets division conducts a brisk worldwide tour in search of new markets ready for takeoff.

No first-book jitters for Sharma, longtime columnist for the likes of Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal. His smooth, almost chummy style suits him ideally for guiding civilians through the sometimes-arcane thicket of the dismal science, looking for those emerging markets likely to disappoint or exceed expectations in the coming years. Sharma insists on the importance of on-the-ground observations, and he’s recently visited all the countries discussed here. While recognizing that factors explaining growth change continually, he divulges some helpful, broad rules of the road. We learn, for example, why a particular nation’s form of government counts less than the economic understanding and vision of its leaders, why the size and growth of a nation’s second city is important and why the list of top-ten billionaires matters. He offers informed speculation on why Russia’s Putin may have outlived his usefulness, why Sri Lanka, the Philippines, even Nigeria may finally be headed in the right direction, why Mexico continues to underperform, why Poland and the Czech Republic find themselves in the “sweet spot” of Europe, why the coming slowdown in China will feel like a recession and why Indonesia’s new “efficient corruption” counts as an improvement over the old way of doing business. Sharma drills down even further, noticing and explaining the significance of the price of a hotel room in Rio, a single electromagnetic railroad in China, the road conditions in Vietnam, the decibel level of late-night revelry in a Turkish club, the popularity of Korean soap operas, jammed traffic in Jakarta or dangerous street crime in Johannesburg. Confining his predictions to the near future, Sharma refreshingly comes across as that rare thing Harry Truman once sought: a “one-handed economist” willing to stake his reputation without resort to “on the other hand” equivocation. For investors looking to place their bets and for general readers looking to understand the global economic landscape in the wake of the Great Recession.  

 

Pub Date: April 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-393-08026-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2012

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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