A brief but astute primer on the nation’s economic vulnerabilities.



An analysis of the grim economic challenges that may confront the United States in the near future.

The last election season was certainly marked by fervent ideological divides, but that doesn’t mean that it was substantively serious. Paepke (The Evolution of Progress, 1993) calls it the “Seinfeld Election” because, like that TV sitcom, it was essentially about nothing. This is especially worrisome, he says, as the nation faces a maelstrom of daunting problems on the horizon. First, he asserts that the deficit will continue to balloon as spending consistently outstrips economic growth—the result of recklessness by both political parties. The interest rates on the nation’s debt alone will have crippling effects, he says, and future presidents will have a limited toolbox of fiscal strategies available when new crises arise. Also, he paints the country’s demographic reality as both frightening and inexorable; an aging population, he says, will be less economically productive but more solicitous of government funds—a problem compounded by senior voters’ increasing political clout. Entitlement spending poses grave risks, Paepke notes, as it’s considerably easier to take on new fiscal commitments than it is to shed them. Finally, he says that lasting economic progress depends upon technological innovation, which our nation no longer adequately supports: “Any prospect of restoring past levels of growth would require…making essential investments in infrastructure, improving incentives, eliminating crony capitalism, and government belt-tightening. Even then, any return to technology-charged rates of growth may not be sustainable for long.” Overall, Paepke’s analysis is chilling but sober, as he avoids any partisan score-settling or melodramatic announcements of imminent collapse. He addresses a number of issues, as well as suggested reforms, that faithful readers of decent newspapers will already be familiar with, but he’s right to point out that they were indeed neglected during the election season. His work is relatively brief—really more of a long essay than a full-fledged book—but it serves as a helpful introduction to economic hurdles that the United States government may find hard to clear in the years ahead.

A brief but astute primer on the nation’s economic vulnerabilities. 

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2016


Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 13, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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