Valuable for policymakers. Although not involved in the recent troubled launch of healthcare.gov, Chopra suspects outdated...

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INNOVATIVE STATE

HOW NEW TECHNOLOGIES CAN TRANSFORM GOVERNMENT

The nation’s first chief technology officer describes efforts to modernize the federal government.

A leading figure in governmental open innovation, Chopra served from 2009 to 2012 as President Barack Obama’s technology honcho, charged with bringing the latest high-tech tools and techniques into the business of an outdated, low-tech federal bureaucracy. The author traces his own education (in the pre-Internet days) at Johns Hopkins, his growing familiarity with the IT revolution in jobs at Morgan Stanley and elsewhere, and his work as Virginia’s secretary of technology, where he began initiatives making it easier for citizens to access government information online. Building on the latter experience, he joined the early Obama administration to help close the serious technology gap between the federal government and the private sector. His key goals were to spur long-term job growth and to increase private sector participation in solving public problems. In these pages, he recounts the open innovation principles he used to foster technological innovation across federal agencies. The principles, which he outlined in an “Open Innovator’s Toolkit,” rely on open data (computer-friendly and easily understandable), challenges and prizes (to find solutions), and the attraction of talented innovators. Chopra offers many examples of initiatives based on such tools, from the creation of a Veterans Job Bank search engine at the end of the first Iraq war to efforts to work with the private sector to modernize the country’s electrical grid to a notable success in making critically needed government information on situations in local neighborhoods available online to residents in post-Katrina New Orleans. Open innovation, he writes, can help solve problems “by tapping into widespread talent and the latest technology, while always putting a premium on pragmatism and collaboration.”

Valuable for policymakers. Although not involved in the recent troubled launch of healthcare.gov, Chopra suspects outdated IT procurement rules and political interference were the culprits.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2133-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Atlantic Monthly

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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