Though mostly addressed to the inside-the-Beltway crowd, Ross and Makovsky’s book merits wider attention—and is sure to tick...
Bush I and Clinton peace negotiator Ross (Statecraft and How to Restore America’s Standing in the World, 2007, etc.) and journalist Makovsky (Making Peace With the PLO: The Rabin Government’s Road to the Oslo Accord, 1995) seek to correct some fallacies about the Middle East.
No Arab government, the authors write, protested when, in 2007, Israel bombed a nuclear reactor that Syria was building. That, they explain, is because “most Arab governments want Israel to be strong when it comes to Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, and Syria,” and because most of those governments mistrust Iran as a potential threat with designs on, among other things, Arab oil. Setting aside the tedious construct that all official American thought vis-à-vis matters Middle Eastern has been marred by myths and illusions—the corollary being that only this book is correct on such things, much too daring a claim—Ross and Makovsky venture some Machiavellian divide-and-conquer strategies that have the potential to solve multiple problems at once. Everyone wants peace between Israel and Palestine, for instance, except for a certain percentage of radicals on both sides. Peace would have the further benefit of depriving the radical fringe in the Arab world—at whose extreme stands al-Qaeda, as well as Iran—from having a unifying cause to complain about. Forget the old orthodoxies about linkage, the authors write. When it comes to outflanking Iran, purity of procedure is less important than effective action. Hybrid approaches, they write, are more realistically situated than the triumphalist claims of the neoconservatives who brought us the Iraq War. On that note, they write, “the Bush years have left a woeful legacy: the forces that reject peace are far stronger than they have been…[and] the forces favoring coexistence are far weaker.” Yet the authors express hope that a new administration might make headway in securing America’s interests in the region.Though mostly addressed to the inside-the-Beltway crowd, Ross and Makovsky’s book merits wider attention—and is sure to tick off certain readers in Tehran, Damascus and perhaps Tel Aviv.
Pub Date: June 15, 2009
Page Count: 350
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2009
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.
“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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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