Anyone who wonders why government officials still take the Laffer curve seriously need go no further than this lucid book.




New York Times editorial page writer Appelbaum recounts the hijacking of economic and public policy by right-wing adherents of the unfettered market.

The hour of which the author writes is going on five decades now. The influence of economists on government has grown exponentially since the Nixon administration, with economists convincing the president to scrap the military draft and the judiciary to shelve antitrust cases, their numbers in the federal employ tripling from the 1950s to the 1970s. Economists have taken larger roles in formulating every aspect of public policy—and, in time, leaving their disciplinary bounds to issue pronouncements on matters societal and moral. Economists tend to be conservative, and truly conservative economists would in time, for example, come to blame inflation for the decline of the Protestant work ethic and a rise in corruption, fraud, and “a generalized erosion in public and private manners.” At the same time, government was generally taking Milton Friedman’s laissez-faire, free-market approach to problems rather than the Keynesian quantitative easement of old. As Appelbaum notes, one reason China has been successful compared to the austerity economies of the West is that Keynes has not been forgotten there. Writing in accessible language of thorny fiscal matters, the author ventures into oddly fascinating corners of recent economic history. For instance, a modern trope holds that actor Jayne Mansfield’s beheading in an automobile accident prompted changes in truck design (yet mass shootings have produced no comparable gun control legislation), but that turns out to be wrong: The actuarial minds of the late Nixon era put the value of a human (American, anyway) life at $200,000, did the math, and concluded that the proposed addition of safety bars “would need to save four times as many lives to justify the cost.” The larger point is that the government’s blind trust in the market is now the status quo, and “reliance on the market grants priority to people who have money.”

Anyone who wonders why government officials still take the Laffer curve seriously need go no further than this lucid book.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-51232-9

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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