The author believes that anyone willing to change will be able to do so, and his reassuring tone and plethora of case...




It’s good to feel good about yourself.

Clinical psychologist Malkin (Psychology/Harvard Medical School), contributor to popular magazines, the Huffington Post, NPR and Fox News, draws on decades of experience in his debut self-help book, focused on the problem of narcissism. That word, he says, is used so much that its meaning has become “alarmingly vague,” synonymous with selfishness and self-aggrandizement. Even among psychologists, the “slippery and amorphous” term can refer to “an obnoxious yet common personality trait or a rare and dangerous mental health disorder.” Malkin applies the term to a spectrum of traits, from benign to pathological, arguing that a little narcissism—a feeling of being special—is a good thing, leading to confidence, optimism, and sociability. Healthy narcissism, though, “boils down to striking the right balance,” and he focuses on how to achieve that balance in ourselves, friends, relatives, and children. As in most self-help books, this one provides an assessment questionnaire so readers can find their places on the Narcissism Spectrum: on the far left, individuals he calls echoists suffer from low self-esteem and tend to subjugate themselves to other people’s wishes; on the far right, extreme narcissists “see themselves as better than their partners (and most everyone else),” are often manipulative, insatiably seek approval, and seem “unemotional (apart from anger and thrill seeking).” “Narcissists and echoists are made, not born,” writes the author, justifying his advice about parenting: parents of echoists discourage their children’s pride and senses of accomplishment; parents of narcissists “often inflate their children’s achievements.” Parenting for healthy narcissism involves encouraging (but not requiring) dreams of greatness and fostering love and closeness. Lest readers worry that they won’t be able to identify a narcissist in their lives, Malkin provides five warning signs.

The author believes that anyone willing to change will be able to do so, and his reassuring tone and plethora of case histories offer considered advice and generous encouragement.

Pub Date: July 7, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234810-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Wave/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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