A little more storytelling and reporting might have made this an even more compelling narrative, but this is an incisive and...




A brief, cogent analysis of gentrification in Chicago.

As a journalist on urban issues with a Harvard degree in government and a master’s in public policy from the University of Chicago, Hertz clearly knows this territory, and he ably translates matters of public policy into laymen’s terms. He shows how Chicago—and, by extension, other cities—experienced profound transformation before the “white flight” to suburbia in the 1950s and ’60s and how zoning, redlining, and other actions affected what areas were developed. In a city of segregated neighborhoods, the author clearly demonstrates that race has always been an issue, even in neighborhoods as proud of their liberal progressivism as Lincoln Park. Even Chicagoans will be surprised to learn that, in the immediate aftermath of World War II, Lincoln Park “ranked sixtieth out of the city’s seventy-five neighborhoods” in terms of residents’ incomes. There was of “slum clearance,” as those who could afford it moved to suburbia. Yet “at the same time, a small but growing movement of white professionals viewed Lincoln Park as a gem waiting to be polished and reclaimed.” That set the stage for the titular battle, as rehabbers and urban-renewal investors transformed what had once been an area of beaten-down apartment buildings into single-family dwellings that lowered the population density of the neighborhood, and its diversity as well, while attracting higher-income residents. The proximity to downtown, the Gold Coast and the lake, as well as the neighborhood’s namesake park established it as an inviting alternative to suburban life. It also pitted the rehabbers and newcomers against those who had lived there longer and felt they had more authority and legitimacy. By the 1970s, the battle had shifted in tone, with the more militant Young Lords at odds with those they considered carpetbaggers. And what happened in Lincoln Park has subsequently been transforming adjacent neighborhoods in every direction.

A little more storytelling and reporting might have made this an even more compelling narrative, but this is an incisive and useful narrative on the puzzle of urban development.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-948742-09-2

Page Count: 172

Publisher: Belt Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2018

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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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