A remarkably incisive history and a wonderfully relevant contribution to an ongoing debate.

DEMOCRATIZING FINANCE

ORIGINS OF THE COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS MOVEMENT

A detailed history of community development financial institutions and the overall effort to provide capital to the economically disenfranchised. 

The “problem of providing access to capital to people on the economic margins” isn’t a new one, argues debut author Rosenthal, but dates back to the nation’s origins. At the end of the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin understood that “aspiring entrepreneurs of the working class” were stymied by insufficient access to capital, and he advocated a nascent version of microenterprise lending. And in the wake of the Civil War, the Freedmen’s Bureau established banks specifically designed to serve former slaves. The author meticulously traces this history through the explosion of credit unions in the early 20th century, the recommitment to battling poverty in the 1960s, the proliferation of community reinvestment strategies in the 1970s, and opportunities generated by the banking scandals of the 1980s. The central focus of the book, though, is the creation of CDFIs, possible because of a law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Unlike those programs that preceded it, CDFIs were designed to be less centralized and bureaucratic and more adaptable to community needs. Rosenthal expertly discusses the approach’s sundry strengths and accomplishments and its weaknesses, too, particularly with respect to the funding of social services, education, and health. And while the author’s history is granularly detailed, he raises provocative, philosophical questions about what we’ve cumulatively learned over the years: “How do we describe the universe of diverse institutions that bear that brand—now arguably the most valuable one in community development? Finally, what is the nature of the social phenomenon that we call community development finance?” Rosenthal is more than a detached observer—he led the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions for more than 30 years, the source of both his deep knowledge and obvious passion for the subject. His account is magisterially thorough and thoughtful—and timely given renewed calls to defund the CDFIs.

A remarkably incisive history and a wonderfully relevant contribution to an ongoing debate. 

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5255-3662-5

Page Count: 556

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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