An accessible human story of a longtime history of voter suppression.

UNCOUNTED

THE CRISIS OF VOTER SUPPRESSION IN AMERICA

A law professor examines the persistent measures that still hinder citizens of color and the elderly from voting in America.

There is a sad sense of history’s repeating itself in this focused, hard-hitting, and highly relevant work, which moves from the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965, which effectively tore down hindrances to voting in the South, to today’s newly erected voter suppression tools by the states. How could this happen? The culprit, as Daniels (Univ. of Baltimore School of Law) delineates, was the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder decision, in which “the Court found part of the [VRA] unconstitutional and removed protections from a majority of the South.” Hence, where the VRA had abolished literacy tests and poll taxes and provided voter registrars in “recalcitrant jurisdictions throughout the South,” new restrictions have been implemented in certain counties and states across the country. These include the early closing of polling places, the introduction of new voter ID laws (on Latinx voters especially), voter intimidation and deception, and the purging of voters from rolls (usually because a person hadn’t voted in the past). Daniels sees these efforts as Republican measures to suppress the opposition—i.e., burgeoning minority communities that often vote Democrat. As she notes, “while whites enjoy overrepresentation at the ballot box, minority communities are younger and growing faster than white communities.” The author examines each of these factors in specific chapters with an eye toward the legal ramifications, but she also offers plenty of useful real-world examples. She humanizes this dreary depiction by illustrating the case of her grandmother, who grew up in rural Louisiana and lived through the restrictions to voting during the Jim Crow era; today, she still faces restrictions because she could not produce a birth certificate.

An accessible human story of a longtime history of voter suppression.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4798-6235-1

Page Count: 272

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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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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