Authoritative but not easy reading.




The lead economist at the World Bank’s research division takes a timely look at the inequality of income and wealth.

Global inequality is “extremely high,” writes Milanovic (Worlds Apart: Measuring International and Global Inequality, 2005), with the richest ten percent of income recipients receiving 56 percent of global income, while the poorest ten percent receive only 0.7 percent. A few poor countries are catching up with the rich world, but the differences between the richest and poorest individuals are enormous and likely to grow. In this wide-ranging book, the author examines inequality within nations and between nations, using vignettes to illustrate how wealth and income differences play out in daily life. However, Milanovic’s detailed explanations of how available data can be used to produce insights are often complex and dense—they will be rough going for most non-specialists. Fortunately, the anecdotes make up most of the book and shed considerable light on a grab-bag of issues related to inequalities past and present. For instance: Although Marcus Crassus of ancient Rome had an income equal to the annual incomes of about 32,000 people of his time, John D. Rockefeller was probably the richest person ever, with an income equal to that of about 116,000 people in 1937. Rome wins hands down, however, when the income of its senators (about $21 million annually) is compared to that of today’s U.S. senators (less than $700,000). In China, where inequality doubled between the 1980s and 2005, the disparity between haves and have-nots threatens national unity. Anywhere in the world, writes Milanovic, more than 80 percent of a person’s income can be explained by two factors: place of birth and parents’ income class. The only ways to improve one’s income: hard work, growth in the national mean income of one’s country (carrying the entire population with it) and immigration. The author also discusses differences between the United States and the European Union, similarities between Asia and Latin America and whether the world actually has a middle class (“at best only emerging”).

Authoritative but not easy reading.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-465-01974-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2010

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.


Straight talk to blacks and whites about the realities of racism.

In her feisty debut book, Oluo, essayist, blogger, and editor at large at the Establishment magazine, writes from the perspective of a black, queer, middle-class, college-educated woman living in a “white supremacist country.” The daughter of a white single mother, brought up in largely white Seattle, she sees race as “one of the most defining forces” in her life. Throughout the book, Oluo responds to questions that she has often been asked, and others that she wishes were asked, about racism “in our workplace, our government, our homes, and ourselves.” “Is it really about race?” she is asked by whites who insist that class is a greater source of oppression. “Is police brutality really about race?” “What is cultural appropriation?” and “What is the model minority myth?” Her sharp, no-nonsense answers include talking points for both blacks and whites. She explains, for example, “when somebody asks you to ‘check your privilege’ they are asking you to pause and consider how the advantages you’ve had in life are contributing to your opinions and actions, and how the lack of disadvantages in certain areas is keeping you from fully understanding the struggles others are facing.” She unpacks the complicated term “intersectionality”: the idea that social justice must consider “a myriad of identities—our gender, class, race, sexuality, and so much more—that inform our experiences in life.” She asks whites to realize that when people of color talk about systemic racism, “they are opening up all of that pain and fear and anger to you” and are asking that they be heard. After devoting most of the book to talking, Oluo finishes with a chapter on action and its urgency. Action includes pressing for reform in schools, unions, and local governments; boycotting businesses that exploit people of color; contributing money to social justice organizations; and, most of all, voting for candidates who make “diversity, inclusion and racial justice a priority.”

A clear and candid contribution to an essential conversation.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-58005-677-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?