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THE UPSIDE OF DOWN

WHY THE RISE OF THE REST IS GOOD FOR THE WEST

An optimistic view of the future economy—refreshing in that sense, but perhaps a touch too rosy, even if written with the...

If you want to know how the rise of China is affecting your daily life, check the beer cooler.

Thirty years ago, writes Center for Global Development senior fellow Kenny (Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding—And How We Can Improve the World Even More, 2011), beer consumption in China was pretty well nonexistent. Today, China “consumes more than 40 billion liters,” plenty more than is consumed in the United States. Does that mean that the Chinese are stealing our suds or that brewers are ignoring the American market? Not at all: By Kenny’s lights, illuminating his overarching thesis on the positives of development, “beer provides [a] global opportunity for Western brands from Guinness to Schlitz.” Faced with declining markets for consumer goods of various sorts in the satiated West, Western concerns can thrive anew with the expansion of markets abroad—not just in China, but in India, Latin America, Africa and everywhere in the developing world, which is acquiring the wherewithal to bring abundance to its people. A moralist might cringe, but to Kenny, this is generally a good thing, not only since innovation will flow from such markets, but also due to the fact that it will help integrate the world economy even further. Arguing against “declinist” views of the West, the author claims that the lifting-all-boats model is largely correct, and if the go-go growth models of the past are likely not to govern the future economy, at least some growth will be possible, an unlikely scenario in an isolationist West with a declining and aging population. The rise of the rest will affect the rest in that sense, too, Kenny writes, since even if “real demand for migration is lower than stated demand,” there is still need for skilled workers from abroad to move to America, leading to the continuing internationalization and diversification of American society.

An optimistic view of the future economy—refreshing in that sense, but perhaps a touch too rosy, even if written with the dry detachment of an economist.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-465-06473-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2013

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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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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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