Packed with charts and graphs and not for the numerically faint of heart. For those versed in economics, however, Milanovic...

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GLOBAL INEQUALITY

A NEW APPROACH FOR THE AGE OF GLOBALIZATION

The rich get richer, and the world gets poorer.

Inequality is a constant of history. But, writes economist Milanovic (Luxembourg Income Study Center; The Haves and the Have-Nots: A Brief and Idiosyncratic History of Global Inequality, 2010, etc.), only recently have we been able to work with meaningful numbers about it. His terminus is 1988, “a convenient starting place because it coincides almost exactly with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reintegration of the then-communist economies into the world economic system.” Armed with strong data, the author charts how inequality of income and wealth, among other axes, though a global phenomenon, also has local results: in the face of globalization, workers in China may want to unionize, for instance, while workers in the United States might demand protective tariffs. Building on but not entirely endorsing the work of Thomas Piketty, Milanovic looks closely at some specific consequences of this push and pull across the globe: unskilled workers may be drawn to the U.S. because of the tightening of possibilities of intergenerational mobility, while more skilled ones might instead opt for the Northern European nations, where that opportunity is greater. If that premise is guaranteed to irritate America-firsters, so are some of Milanovic’s other findings, presented with the arid calmness of his profession. As inequality rises, the middle class disappears; as it does, political power concentrates in the hands of the rich, who may opt to send their children to private schools and refuse to fund public ones, with the “countervailing power of the middle class…no longer sufficiently strong to oblige them to finance public health and education and participate in it.” Milanovic is cautious about forecasting either economic or political consequences, noting in passing how wrong analysts were in the 1970s and ’80s about the world of today and observing, “predicting important discrete events may be a form of charlatanism.”

Packed with charts and graphs and not for the numerically faint of heart. For those versed in economics, however, Milanovic provides an illuminating analysis.

Pub Date: April 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-674-73713-6

Page Count: 282

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

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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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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

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