A useful addition to the discussion though unlikely to change Mitch McConnell’s mind on election security.

Journalist Shimer turns in a thoroughgoing account of the many ways in which Russia and the U.S. have tinkered with each other’s voting processes.

Russia has been attempting to sway American public opinion since the days of Lenin, who knew that his government’s survival hinged on being accepted in the outside world. But when Barack Obama was informed that Russia was gaming the 2016 presidential election, he looked only at the short term—and only at the question of whether Russia was directly changing ballots. “They were not focused at all on what we knew had been very effective elsewhere,” said an adviser, “the influence campaign, changing public opinion.” Obama retaliated with sanctions that were undone by Donald Trump. By Shimer’s account, Russia has rigged plenty of elections before, including many in Eastern Europe, when brigades of Soviet agents literally stuffed the ballot boxes to promote supposedly freely elected communist candidates in Poland and East Germany. But then, so has America, if in less direct ways, as when the CIA poured millions of dollars—by Shimer’s reckoning, about $107 million in today’s dollars—into the promotion of the Christian Democratic over the Communist Party in the Italian elections of 1948. The CIA’s interference in the Chilean elections of the 1960s proved less effective, leading to the election of the Communist Salvador Allende, who was deposed by an Ameican-backed military coup in 1973. As an aide to Henry Kissinger admitted, the U.S. attempted to sway that election by “creating false propaganda” and “overthrowing the constitution,” and it worked. Shimer offers a fascinating counterfactual in the case of Willy Brandt, who, aided unwittingly by Soviet agents, urged détente between East and West Germany and the superpowers behind them: If the election had not been swayed in his direction, “the very arc of the Cold War…might have been transformed.”

A useful addition to the discussion though unlikely to change Mitch McConnell’s mind on election security.

Pub Date: July 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-65900-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020


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

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


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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