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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

SLEEPERS

An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more