Goldberg’s writing occasionally plods, and his lengthy quotations from other sources become tiresome, but he does offer some...

THE JOINT VENTURED NATION

WHY AMERICA NEEDS A NEW FOREIGN POLICY

A global economics consultant debuts with an analysis of the failure of American foreign policy to adapt to the new realities of an interconnected world.

The days when leading nations could act solely as rivals are over, writes Goldberg (Political Economy/New York Univ. Center for Global Affairs), who served on Barack Obama’s foreign policy network team. Now, in a globalized world where markets and central banks shape events as much as governments and diplomats, world powers must become joint venture partners. Like corporations that form pragmatic partnerships to enter new markets for mutual profit, the United States must begin to relate to such logical JV partners as the rest of North America, Europe, Japan, and China in ways that reflect their mutual dependence. No longer a matter of confrontational politics, or of making the world safe for democracy, American foreign policy must now be fine-tuned to engage in “a multilayered game of power politics wrapped inside the enigma of globalization, which is then stirred and shaken by markets, central banks, and social media.” Recounting the forces that globalized society since the 1970s, Goldberg details the impact of interconnectedness in the U.S., where 70 percent of job-creating foreign investments come from Europe and some 6 million Americans work for European firms. Nonetheless, Americans’ “subliminal fear” of the outside world and the painful economic effects many have felt from globalization may prevent the U.S. from acting with the needed subtlety and nuance to succeed in a world lacking sharply defined good guys and bad guys. Though often repetitious, the narrative features solid discussions of the changing nature of sovereignty, the power of the Federal Reserve, and the shifting geopolitical views of nations over the past decades. The U.S., writes the author, must focus on the globalized 21st-century countries and temper its obsession with the Middle East.

Goldberg’s writing occasionally plods, and his lengthy quotations from other sources become tiresome, but he does offer some provocative ideas for policymakers.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5107-1222-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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