by David Dayen ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 9, 2020
A powerful, necessary call to arms to strengthen the antitrust movement and fight a system whose goal is complete control.
A cutting damnation of the monopolization of the international marketplace for, well, pretty much everything.
As the executive editor of the American Prospect, one of the most progressive publications in America, it’s no surprise that Dayen eviscerates the flawed system that has propped up the modern economy for decades: monopolies, the collection of faceless corporations that manipulate the system while placing the burden of the work on the backs of everyday people, whether they know it or not. The author digs deep into the problem, chronicling his travels around the U.S. to see not only the macro effects of monopolies, but their very real impacts on real people. Each of the chapters begins with the phrase “Monopolies are why...” and proceeds to use painful examples to illustrate Dayen’s cogent arguments. Examples include: “why hundreds of journalists became filmmakers, then back to writers, then unemployed,” or “why a small business owner and his girlfriend had to get permission from Amazon to live together.” The author covers such usual suspects as the banking industry, the communications industry, and big pharma, but he shines a light on the shady corners of the prison system and even the funeral industry, illuminating the breadth and depth of the insidious effects of a multilayered system that follows and controls its victims throughout their lives. Dayen’s main thread is inequality, a natural consequence of one entity having nearly complete control over a market. Readers may know much of this information, but it’s still shocking to read about the damaging consequences of superconcentrated markets. Economists know how to fight it, as Dayen clearly explains, but getting people to recognize how they’re being used is exceedingly difficult. It’s a striking social and economic dilemma that the author thankfully exposes, just as he did with the foreclosure crisis in Chain of Title (2016).A powerful, necessary call to arms to strengthen the antitrust movement and fight a system whose goal is complete control.
Pub Date: June 9, 2020
Page Count: 336
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020
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by Thomas Sowell ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 19, 2023
For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.
The noted conservative economist delivers arguments both fiscal and political against social justice initiatives such as welfare and a federal minimum wage.
A Black scholar who has lived through many civil rights struggles, Sowell is also a follower of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman, who insisted that free market solutions are available for every social problem. This short book begins with what amounts to an impatient declaration that life isn’t fair. Some nations are wealthy because of geographical advantages, and some people are wealthy because they’re smarter than others. “Some social justice advocates may implicitly assume that various groups have similar developed capabilities, so that different outcomes appear puzzling,” he writes. In doing so, he argues, they fail to distinguish between equal opportunity and equal capability. Sowell is dismissive of claims that Black Americans and other minorities are systematically denied a level playing field: Put non-white kids in charter schools, he urges, and presto, their math scores will zoom northward as compared to those in public schools. “These are huge disparities within the same groups, so that neither race nor racism can account for these huge differences,” he writes, clearly at pains to distance himself from the faintest suggestion that race has anything to do with success or failure in America. At the same time, he isn’t exactly comfortable with the idea that economic inequalities exist, and he tries to finesse definitions to suit his convictions: “The terms ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ are misleading in another and more fundamental sense. These terms apply to people’s stock of wealth, not their flows of income.” As for crime? Give criminals more rights, he asserts, as with Miranda v. Arizona, and crime rates go up—an assertion that overlooks numerous other variables but fits Sowell’s ideological slant.For those satisfied with blame-the-victim tidbits of received wisdom.
Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Basic Books
Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023
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by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...
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Best Books Of 2016
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.
Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.
Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
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