A wicked and witty work.

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THE BILLIONAIRES' HANDBOOK

A USER'S GUIDE TO WEALTH AND POWER

A sardonic spoof of business books that lambasts the superrich.

In this cleverly structured, darkly humorous book, portfolio manager/investment banker Stevenson (Cynicism, 2016) writes from a first-person perspective, as if he’s a billionaire candidly revealing his worldview. The resulting mock “handbook” begins with an overview of what he calls “The Old Rules.” In it, the narrator breaks economic history into three main periods: Mercantilism, Capitalism, and Cynicism—the latter of which, he says, is the “new economic system” that has replaced capitalism. Thirty “New Rules” of the post-capitalistic economy follow, each of which Stevenson outlines in biting, satirical text. For example, Rule 15 says that “a CEO’s value is measured by how much of their company’s cash they can get away with transferring into my bank account,” while Rule 22 proclaims, “if you pay someone enough you can always get the answer you are looking for.” Each of the rules, just a few paragraphs long, follows a similarly humorous path. The second part of the book is even darker in tone, as the narrator claims that the 2008 financial meltdown allowed billionaires to tap into “newfound fear and anxiety”: “Then we elected one of our own the President of the United States, and before you knew it, we were right back on track.” (An accompanying illustration shows a Donald Trump–like figure on a throne.) The narrator then proceeds to deliver 25 more rules that take aim at current issues and beliefs with uproarious cynicism. The author addresses health care, immigration, “fake news,” and other topics, depicting billionaires as narcissistic, hardhearted, and morally corrupt. One rule, for instance, advises that “empathy is the enemy of ‘the people’ and by ‘the people’ I mean rich people,” while another observes that “a shrinking middle class is great for lowering your company’s wage bills.” The book’s closing section, “A Few Years Later,” offers readers a novel contrast; in it, the billionaire narrator has retired and has decided that he’d like to be remembered as “The Greatest American of the 21st Century.” The 20 rules that he puts forth at this point reflect the actions of a more compassionate, philanthropic, and socially conscious person; ironically, however, he offers these rules solely in a personal bid for immortality. Overall, there are several elements that make this parody stand out. The voice of the narrator, for one, is spot-on, brilliantly portraying a self-involved and exceedingly callous caricature of a modern-day magnate. Despite occasional grammatical errors, the text is consistently cunning and merciless, and it’s made all the more effective by the inclusion of vibrant, colorful illustrations that cleverly reinforce the content throughout. The last section of the book shrewdly presents what American society could possibly be like if the people in it followed moral tenets of justice and fair play. Overall, this is a tour de farce that offers an unrelentingly amoral, profit-driven characterization of a billionaire, and as with all potent satires, the author’s words hit the mark more often than not.

A wicked and witty work.   

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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