Readers must cling to the hope that things are not as bad as the authors claim.


An angry attack on Washington and the wealthy, asserting that their alliance has distorted the economy, shrunk the middle class and enriched the already rich.

Competing polemics rely on predictions of a dire future, but veteran investigative reporters Barlett and Steele point out that they delivered identical warnings in America: What Went Wrong (1992)—all of which came true. They maintain that the deficit is less the result of government programs than plummeting tax revenue from the rich, who paid 51.2 percent of their income in 1955 versus 16.6 percent today. Congress once assumed that salaried workers shouldn’t pay more than the rich, who lived on dividends. They reversed this in 2003, capping the dividend rate at 15 percent. More than half of large American corporations pay no tax. Since the 1970s, advocates of deregulation and free trade persistently proclaim that it increases jobs and reduces the trade deficit, apparently unaware that the exact opposite almost always happens. The authors’ solutions include: Revise the tax code so corporations and the rich pay more than the middle class instead of less, discard the clueless ideology of free trade (no other nation believes it), re-regulate disastrously unregulated areas, and enforce current laws equally instead of giving the influential a free pass. The authors describe genuine problems, but their solutions would produce outrage among congressional Republicans (obscenities such as “tax increase,” “government regulation,” “protectionism” and “class warfare” would fill the air) and no enthusiasm from Democrats. Reforms since the 2008 crash have been easily defeated or watered down.

Readers must cling to the hope that things are not as bad as the authors claim.

Pub Date: July 31, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58648-969-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: June 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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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

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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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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