Next book

THE FATE OF THE WEST

THE DECLINE AND REVIVAL OF THE WORLD'S MOST VALUABLE POLITICAL IDEA

Good fuel for those who think that the sitting U.S. president is the worst thing to happen to democracy since Xerxes.

The West is premised on political and economic ideals that are under threat—from Beijing, from Moscow, and from Washington, D.C.

Emmott (Good Italy, Bad Italy: Why Italy Must Conquer Its Demons to Face the Future, 2012, etc.), former editor-in-chief of the Economist—which is seen as conservative just about everywhere except the U.S.—holds that the West is as much an idea as it is a geographic entity: the West is found in Seoul, Tokyo, and Kuala Lumpur as well as Paris and London. It relies on the operation and staunch defense of several principles, first among them relative equality of income and opportunity as well as openness—i.e., a society that is “open to new ideas, new elites, new circumstances and new opportunities whether of trade in goods and services or of culture and science.” An open society is thus one of porous borders rather than of walls, friendly to free trade agreements as opposed to protectionist tariffs, outward-looking rather than nationalist. There have been many well-documented studies of inequality, but Emmott’s appeal to openness recalls arguments not heard since Karl Popper, ones that are now broadly unwelcome anywhere that the words “liberalism” and “liberal democracy” are viewed with suspicion. Emmott examines aspects of inequality, international affairs, and the failures of one ideal or another in actual practice. As he notes, with respect to the abandonment of free trade agreements, if you pick a fight with a foreigner, a foreigner is likely to pick a fight with you, and “to deal with…enemies, the West’s greatest asset in the past has been its friendships,” friendships likely to be lost to isolationism and the resulting reshifting of world power relations. Emmott uses plenty of facts and figures to support his argument, which is profoundly one of ideas—and how the idea of the open, free, Western society is better than that of authoritarianism.

Good fuel for those who think that the sitting U.S. president is the worst thing to happen to democracy since Xerxes.

Pub Date: May 9, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78125-734-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

Next book

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Next book

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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

Close Quickview