Anyone following Jindal’s campaign will find nothing new, and much repeated, in this perfunctory book.

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AMERICAN WILL

THE FORGOTTEN CHOICES THAT CHANGED OUR REPUBLIC

Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate Jindal shares the tenets of his presidential campaign.

The author sets out his positions in a passionate, angry polemic. With the assistance of former speechwriter for George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld Matt Latimer (Speech-less: Tales of a White House Survivor, 2009) and his partner in a literary agency/ghostwriting business, former Rumsfeld speechwriter Keith Urbahn, Jindal offers 10 chapters that focus on moments of crucial decision-making for the nation. The presidential election of 2016, he maintains, is just such a moment: when voters will decide whether or not the country will “continue down the path of bigger government, emboldened enemies, diminished liberties, and hostility to religious faith.” A committed conservative, Jindal is convinced of American exceptionalism, which God planned and liberals undermine. Among the visionaries who exemplify instructive values were the anti-federalists, who fought for a Bill of Rights that would temper the power of the federal government; and entrepreneur Edwin Drake, who “ushered in a world-wide energy revolution” by drilling for oil in Pennsylvania. Risk-takers like Drake, Jindal claims, would today be hampered by “environmental radicals and a compliant media” who raise questions about such issues as hydraulic fracturing. Only the free market, the author maintains, can “encourage technological innovation in renewables such as solar, wind, and hydropower.” The author spends most of the book attacking Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, government-mandated health care, and the current administration’s foreign policies, including the proposed nuclear deal with Iran. Although he claims that his own party needs to put forth solutions to domestic and global problems, he offers only general principles: smaller government, better schools, empowerment for “ordinary Americans,” a president who “does not apologize for American power,” and freedom for Christians to act on their religious beliefs.

Anyone following Jindal’s campaign will find nothing new, and much repeated, in this perfunctory book.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1707-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Threshold Editions/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 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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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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