Required reading. Another winner from a master.

THE NEW MAP

ENERGY, CLIMATE, AND THE CLASH OF NATIONS

The latest on global energy geopolitics from the pen of an expert.

Yergin is the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of multiple magisterial volumes on world affairs as they relate to energy. In The Quest (2011), he described the stormy rivalry between an America struggling to maintain its hegemony in the face of upcoming rivals Russia and China. The following decade has not improved matters, and the current global pandemic is proving to be a disaster. However, bad news often makes for entertaining reading, and Yergin delivers a fascinating and meticulously researched page-turner. He maintains that an energy revolution has transformed the world to America’s benefit. However, it’s not wind and solar but fracking. American oil production had been dropping since 1970, but after 2000, fracking changed the game. In 2018, the U.S. overtook Russia and Saudi Arabia to again become the world’s largest oil producer. Production tripled between 2008 and 2020. Yergin astutely examines how other nations responded. Russia, with an economy “only slightly larger than Spain’s,” depends on oil income as much as the old Soviet Union. Responding to American oil sanctions, Putin has vastly improved relations with China, by many measures the world’s leading economy. “China,” writes the author, “has become what Britain had been during the industrial revolution—the manufacturing ‘workshop of the world.’ ” It’s already the largest producer of steel, aluminum, and computers as well as the largest energy consumer. Turning to the Middle East, Yergin describes an unhappy collection of failed states, civil wars, oppressive theocracies, bloody insurgencies, and wealthy ministates, all dealing with plummeting oil prices. The author views Trump with the same mild disapproval he applies to Putin and China’s Xi Jinping, and he chastises environmentalists for getting certain facts wrong. Yergin accepts that humans have dramatically affected the climate, but he doubts the practicality of proposed solutions.

Required reading. Another winner from a master.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-59420-643-6

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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