As fair and balanced as a solar-plexus punch can be.

READ REVIEW

THE WATCHDOG THAT DIDN'T BARK

THE FINANCIAL CRISIS AND THE DISAPPEARANCE OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM

A Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist summarizes and analyzes the reasons the press, prior to the 2008 mortgage crisis, failed to pursue some obvious villains.

Starkman—an editor at the Columbia Journalism Review and a veteran newspaperman (Wall Street Journal, among others)—has both historical and analytical items on his agenda. He begins with Ida Tarbell, who wrote massive investigative pieces about Standard Oil for McClure’s at the turn of the 20th century, then sketches the history of the muckraking tradition, which has ebbed and flowed over the past century. He also offers some history of financial journalism, including the history of the WSJBarron’sBusinessWeekFortune, Forbes and others. Among the sundry heroes who emerge is Michael Hudson, a journalist who has focused on poverty issues since the early 1990s and whose name, efforts and accomplishments appear continually throughout the final two-thirds of Starkman’s text. Throughout, as well, the author returns to the distinction between “access” and “accountability” reporting—between stories that basically profile business leaders and present their views and investigative stories designed to bring into the light information that some (many? most?) in the business community would prefer to keep hidden. These two approaches, he shows, have waxed and waned over the years; unfortunately, they were on the wane in the years leading up to 2008. Starkman is careful, though, to credit individuals and publications that did see the looming problem, but, he writes, these stories were neither prominent nor pervasive enough to have a salutary effect. He notes the numerous causes of the problem—the rise of the Internet (and decline of newspapers), the barriers facing investigative journalists and the complexity of economic issues—though he can be obscure when he tries to explain derivatives and mortgage-backed securities.

As fair and balanced as a solar-plexus punch can be.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-231-15818-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

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

Did you like this book?

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Did you like this book?

more