Worthwhile reading for policy wonks and general readers who can soldier through the technical jargon.

PEDDLING PERIL

HOW THE SECRET NUCLEAR TRADE ARMS AMERICA’S ENEMIES

“Two of the most underappreciated (and terrifying) facets of global nuclear proliferation are how much it has depended on nuclear smuggling to thrive, and how inadequate our ability is to detect or prevent the construction of secret nuclear facilities.”

So writes nuclear-proliferation expert Albright in the introduction to his rewarding, though occasionally dense book. The author spins a cautionary thesis about the inexorable proliferation of nuclear weapons, which began with A.Q. Khan’s global “illicit trade” network. Albright documents Khan’s modest beginnings as a scientist of atomic energy in the Netherlands, tracking his rise from smuggler to leader of an evasive nuclear-arms network that spans the Netherlands, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, India, Libya, China, North Korea and South Africa, among others. It is the story of an endlessly morphing bureaucracy comprised of so many agents that it can be difficult to keep track. Luckily, most of Khan’s players are repeat offenders, which will help orient readers. According to reports, Khan smuggled nuclear secrets from the Netherlands to Pakistan and from Pakistan to Iran and Iraq. From South Africa his network could work without legal scrutiny, and, through Dubai, the network could sell items using “legitimate” businesses as fronts for the illicit trade. In addition to the bureaucratic shape-shifting, countries sought to purchase nuclear equipment one piece at a time, using imports of individual components, like tubing for gas centrifuges, rather than a whole plant. This allowed the clandestine operations to fly under the radar of the CIA, NSA and even the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). Albright paints a frightening picture of a future rife with unregulated nuclear armament, but he has not lost hope. “Three critical steps that must be taken,” he writes, “are implementing universal laws and norms against nuclear smuggling, establishing more secure nuclear assets, and working toward earlier detection of illicit nuclear trade.”

Worthwhile reading for policy wonks and general readers who can soldier through the technical jargon.

Pub Date: March 16, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-4931-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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

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