Engaging, multifaceted discussions of a perennial economic issue.




A wide-ranging exploration of the origins of inequality.

Although economic disparity is a major source of debate in contemporary political discourse, philosophical investigations into its principal causes have gone on for centuries. Debut author Longaker examines the issue by starting with a focused question: why did some nations spectacularly capitalize on the economic opportunities generated by the Industrial Revolution, while others missed the boat? The author’s response heavily applies principles of Darwinian evolution. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, he says, the world’s rate of population growth was largely stagnant; later, economically affluent people reproduced at a more impressive rate than their poorer counterparts, more of their offspring survived, and the traits that supported their superior success proved heritable, Longaker asserts. But after a process that took approximately 1,000 years, the difference between the global rich and poor has solidified, he says, and the power of Darwinian evolution has waned: “Darwinian fitness, at least as we have used it, no longer operates nearly as intensely as before.” The author’s study is stunningly broad, traversing an extraordinary swath of intellectual territory, including ideas from economics, evolutionary biology, anthropology, and psychology, just to name a few. He shows a refreshing penchant for challenging regnant academic pieties; he presents powerful reasons to be suspicious of the doctrine of “psychic unity,” for example. Although the book doesn’t appear to have any discriminatory or prejudicial motivations, the author offers a thoughtful, lively response to potential accusations of racism, which he calls “wrongheaded.” Additionally, Longaker provides a searching analysis of the stubborn problem of poverty, astutely distinguishing between urban and rural manifestations. The book’s survey of the relevant literature is also instructive; the author helpfully contrasts his own work with Guns, Germs, and Steel author Jared Diamond’s geographical determinism, for instance. But although the prose is consistently accessible, this is still a long and sometimes-long-winded analysis that’s heavy on statistical minutiae, and some of the more data-laden sections may prove exhausting. However, the author’s meticulousness and spirited iconoclasm repays careful attention.

Engaging, multifaceted discussions of a perennial economic issue.

Pub Date: March 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9979617-0-6

Page Count: 404

Publisher: Napoleon Avenue

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2017

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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