An authoritative, useful overview of making final arrangements.

Barnsdale offers a brief but useful discussion about planning for death in this nonfiction work.

With his combined expertise as a licensed funeral director and a certified financial planner, the author is uniquely qualified to discuss both the temporal and financial aspects of dying. Five short but informative chapters cover communicating end-of-life wishes, creating a will, funeral planning, estate planning, and powers of attorney and health care directives. Recognizing the difficulty of the subject for many people, he offers a helpful list of five “icebreakers,” questions designed to prompt further discussion, such as, “I’ve been thinking more about my life and how I want to be remembered. How will you remember me?” The book goes on to present basic information about preparing a will, including a discussion of the executor’s role and using a lawyer versus a do-it-yourself service. A section that specifically addresses “funeral, cremation & burial planning” may be the most unsettling for some readers; in a sensitive yet objective manner, the author covers such issues as whether or not the body of the deceased should be viewed, what happens if a death occurs away from home, the increasing popularity of cremation, the “death awareness movement,” organ donation, and natural, “green” burials. The author offers a brief overview of estate planning with the caveat that he is a financial planner but not an estate attorney. The final chapter addresses the creation of legal “incapacity documents”; Barnsdale advises, “Thinking about our potential incapacity is not uplifting, but considering the risks of doing nothing, it is important.” This book is more of an introduction to the process of death planning than a substantive discussion. Still, it can act as a valuable conversation starter for a difficult subject.

An authoritative, useful overview of making final arrangements.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2023

ISBN: 9781525584916

Page Count: 120

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2023


An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

An indispensable primer on the history of art, with an exclusive focus on women.

Prominent 19th-century art critic John Ruskin once proclaimed, “the woman’s intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision,” and traces of this misguided and malignant sentiment can still be found over a century later in art institutions around the world. A 2019 study found that “in the collections of eighteen major US art museums, 87 percent of artworks were by men, and 85 percent by white artists.” There’s a lot to be mad about, but London-based art historian Hessel nimbly pivots that energy into a constructive, revelatory project. This book is not a mere rebuttal to the aforementioned discrimination; deftly researched, the text reveals an alternate history of centuries of artistic movements. With palpable excitement, the author shifts the focus from widely known male participants to the unsung female players of the time. Art aficionados will delight in Hessel’s sleight of hand and marvel at her wide, inclusive reach. Spanning from Baroque art to the present day, she effortlessly removes “the clamour of men” and, in a series of short biographical profiles, shapes a historical arc that still feels grounded even without a familiar male presence. Art history must “reset,” Hessel writes, and she positions her book as an important first step in that reconfiguration. While the author progresses mostly movement by movement, her broader tangents are particularly profound. One of many highlights is a generous overview of queer artists of the Weimar era. Hessel is occasionally uneven with how much content she allots each artist, and some perfunctory profiles feel like the result of trying to highlight as many names as possible. Nonetheless, even the shortest gloss provides enough intrigue to be a successful introduction to an artist who might otherwise be forgotten.

An overdue upending of art historical discourse.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9780393881868

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023


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

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019