A full-throated celebration of the national spirit and its potential to persevere in spite of dangers foreign and domestic.

WHAT UNITES US

REFLECTIONS ON PATRIOTISM

One of the deans of the Fourth Estate defends the traditional American values he learned to cherish in childhood, now under threat in a tempestuous political and economic climate.

With straightforward chapter names like “The Press,” “Empathy,” and “The Environment,” “Science,” and “Public Education,” Rather (Rather Outspoken: My Life in the News, 2012, etc.) expounds on the qualities and characteristics that he believes make America great and on what must be done to overcome the formidable challenges it faces. His own profession is among those most at risk: “Presently, the institution of a free press in America is in a state of crisis greater than I have ever seen in my lifetime, and perhaps in any moment in the nation’s history.” Brief essays on each topic incorporate sepia-toned vignettes from Rather’s childhood or his storied career, although rarely does he go into significant detail. Overall, the tone is something of a greatest-hits compilation of American civic life and the national spirit, and readers may be forgiven for thinking that the book was rushed to respond to the election. Rather stresses the importance of standing firm against a coarsening of values, noting, “in moments like the present, when our government has become erratic and threatens our constitutional principles, dissent is doubly necessary to resist a slide into greater autocracy.” He also asks, “when did we accept a can’t-do spirit from so many of our national leaders?” Disappointingly for one of the country’s most famous investigative journalists, Rather never fully investigates anything here, hitting all the well-rehearsed, expected topics, many of which he has already potently addressed through social media. Though the situation is dire, he remains optimistic, reminding readers that “we have been through big challenges in the past, that it often seems darkest in the present.”

A full-throated celebration of the national spirit and its potential to persevere in spite of dangers foreign and domestic.

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61620-782-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

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

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more