A well-pulled-together collection from Richards (Opting In, 2008, etc.) and Greenberg.

I STILL BELIEVE ANITA HILL

The proceedings of a symposium of human rights activists, political analysts, legal experts and artists who came together in 2011 to commemorate Anita Hill's courageous testimony at Justice Clarence Thomas' confirmation hearing 20 years earlier.

The contributors spoke about the lasting impact of her groundbreaking testimony before the Senate that Thomas had sexually abused her. The incidents related by Hill (Law/Brandeis Univ.; Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race and Finding Home, 2011, etc.) had occurred in 1981 when Thomas was chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She accused him of using his position as her supervisor to coerce her into having sexual relations. Lani Guinier—the first black tenured professor at Harvard Law School—writes about how she and Thomas were among the few blacks at Yale Law School. She explains how, after the hearings, there was animated debate about the conflict between racial solidarity and a black woman's right to defend herself. A majority of Americans at the time accepted Thomas' claims that Hill was lying. Dorothy Samuels—a member of the New York Times editorial board since 1984—explains the liberating impact of Hill's revelations: “It was soap opera, and a riveting social, legal, and political history lesson all rolled into one….the issue of sexual harassment was out of the shadows.” Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, a volunteer on Hill's legal team, describes a campus rally in 1990 (demanding tenure for “women of color”) addressed by Barack Obama, then president of the Harvard Law Review. Yale law professor Judith Resnik points out that Thomas, then as now, was “against affirmative action, against abortion, against state-provision of assistance.” Hill, looking to the future, wonders “what equality is going to be like in the twenty-first century.”

A well-pulled-together collection from Richards (Opting In, 2008, etc.) and Greenberg.

Pub Date: Jan. 29, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-55861-809-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Feminist Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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