A slog, but it will interest small-L libertarian techies.



A deep dive into efforts to build the next internet, one free of government interference and regulation.

Russo, a leading cryptocurrency journalist, recounts the story of “an idealistic hero, his band of misfits, and the challenges they face to make their incredibly ambitious dream a reality.” The hero is Russian Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin, gifted in mathematics and committed to a certain kind of anarchy, with numerous like-minded allies scattered across the globe. Some, like Russo, are South American, convinced that the key to breaking government control is to develop a cryptocurrency even more thoroughly hidden away than Bitcoin. But that’s only a start, a kind of proof of concept of a larger “world computer,” the dream in question, called Ethereum. Cryptocurrency is just beginning—however, notes the author, it now outstrips many national economies in capital. By way of an analogy, explains one of the players in this book, “email was to the internet what Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency, was to blockchain technology,” and Ethereum is bigger still, “bigger than any application built on top of it.” Though, as Russo writes, it turns out that cryptocurrency is subject to the familiar boom and bust of the business cycle, there are still plenty of hackers working on it, even as government agencies such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission seek to regulate it. The same is true of Ethereum, which seems more desirable than ever since “long-ago scrappy upstarts Facebook and Google had now become megacorporations serving as the main gateways to the internet.” Russo’s narrative, based on more than 100 interviews, is dense, detailed, and often overstuffed. It’s also quite arcane, and it could use some of the patient explication that Michael Lewis and Katie Hafner, among other technology writers, bring to bear on their work.

A slog, but it will interest small-L libertarian techies.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-288614-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: April 6, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.


A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.


Everyone’s favorite avuncular socialist sends up a rousing call to remake the American way of doing business.

“In the twenty-first century we can end the vicious dog-eat-dog economy in which the vast majority struggle to survive,” writes Sanders, “while a handful of billionaires have more wealth than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes.” With that statement, the author updates an argument as old as Marx and Proudhon. In a nice play on words, he condemns “the uber-capitalist system under which we live,” showing how it benefits only the slimmest slice of the few while imposing undue burdens on everyone else. Along the way, Sanders notes that resentment over this inequality was powerful fuel for the disastrous Trump administration, since the Democratic Party thoughtlessly largely abandoned underprivileged voters in favor of “wealthy campaign contributors and the ‘beautiful people.’ ” The author looks squarely at Jeff Bezos, whose company “paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018.” Indeed, writes Sanders, “Bezos is the embodiment of the extreme corporate greed that shapes our times.” Aside from a few passages putting a face to avarice, Sanders lays forth a well-reasoned platform of programs to retool the American economy for greater equity, including investment in education and taking seriously a progressive (in all senses) corporate and personal taxation system to make the rich pay their fair share. In the end, he urges, “We must stop being afraid to call out capitalism and demand fundamental change to a corrupt and rigged system.” One wonders if this firebrand of a manifesto is the opening gambit in still another Sanders run for the presidency. If it is, well, the plutocrats might want to take cover for the duration.

Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593238714

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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