An accomplished, authoritative history of American liberalism.

THE HOUSE OF TRUTH

A WASHINGTON POLITICAL SALON AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF AMERICAN LIBERALISM

The history of a Washington, D.C., residence that served as a crucible for liberal ideas and strategies.

In 1912, a row house in DuPont Circle was dubbed the “House of Truth” by its original residents: labor relations expert Robert G. Valentine and lawyers Winfred Denison, Loring Christie, and Felix Frankfurter. Through the years, many others made their home there: among them, outspoken journalist Walter Lippmann, one of the founders of the New Republic; and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and Louis Brandeis, both of whom served on the Supreme Court. Lippmann, Holmes, Brandeis, and Frankfurter dominate Snyder’s (Law/Univ. of Wisconsin; A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood’s Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports, 2006, etc.) richly detailed history of progressivism, which ends with Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932 and Holmes’ death in 1935. Drawing on a wealth of manuscript sources, the author traces the evolving alliances and views of his four passionate and influential protagonists. Except for Holmes, all believed “that government recognition of organized labor would create an industrial democracy.” Except for Holmes, they were Jewish, with varying connections to their heritages and responses to anti-Semitism, which was rampant in government, at Harvard, where Frankfurter taught, and a growing threat in Europe. Brandeis was a leader in American Zionism; Lippmann described Hitler as “the authentic voice of a civilized people.” Although Snyder depicts Holmes with warm admiration, the jurist emerges as a Victorian mired in the 19th century. Brandeis gently urged Holmes to read about “the pressing issues of the day,” but Holmes, Snyder writes, “loathed” facts. The author provides details of liberals’ involvement with each presidential aspirant and winner; with the Paris Peace Conference; with the notorious trial and executions of Sacco and Vanzetti, and many other social and political causes. At times, the sheer amount of information overwhelms the narrative, more appropriate for a reference source than a lively group biography. Nevertheless, the author’s focus on the significance of the Supreme Court makes the book unusually timely.

An accomplished, authoritative history of American liberalism.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-19-026198-6

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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

NIGHT

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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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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