A sturdy scholarly contribution to women’s studies and political analysis.



What influences women’s votes?

Following their well-researched study of women voters immediately after the 19th Amendment was ratified in 1919 (Counting Women’s Ballots: Female Voters From Suffrage Through the New Deal, 2016), Wolbrecht (Political Science/Univ. of Notre Dame) and Corder (Political Science/Western Michigan Univ.) extend their inquiry to the present, offering an authoritative academic analysis of how women voted in presidential elections over the last 100 years. After an overview chronicling the fight for suffrage, the authors organize their investigation by historical period: the 1920s and ’30s, marked by a world war and Great Depression; the 1940s and ’50s, when traditional gender roles seemed entrenched; the late 1960s and ’70s, when second wave feminism “challenged and transformed” assumptions about women’s interests and the Voting Rights Act brought African American women to the voting booth; the 1980s, when pollsters discovered the gender gap; and 21st-century elections, ending with the defeat of the first woman presidential candidate. The authors assert that two factors traditionally have been thought to shape women’s voting behavior: distinctive gender (women have “distinctive traits, values, and capacities”) and resource inequality (women have less access to political information than men). Although until the 1960s, women were less inclined than men to vote, in the ’60s and ’70s, the turnout gap “narrowed to nothing,” and women became “more supportive than men of social welfare programs.” In the ’80s and ’90s, women were more likely to vote than men and also more likely than men to support Democratic presidential candidates, whom they deemed more progressive than Republicans. Drawing on abundant research data, the authors reveal that a consistent theme among candidates is that “women’s interests are fundamentally tied to motherhood and the home,” but they argue convincingly—and often densely—that “women are not just one kind of voter and are not mobilized only by their gender per se.” Rather, distinctive gender traits and access to resources intersect with race, employment, education, social class, and religion. “Gender matters,” they write. “It is just not the only thing that matters.”

A sturdy scholarly contribution to women’s studies and political analysis.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-31-663807-1

Page Count: 330

Publisher: Cambridge Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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