A breezy history of the political science of England-loving. In the interests of personal disclosure, journalist Buruma (The Wages of Guilt: Memories of War in Germany and Japan, 1994) begins by confessing his Anglophilic background: a childhood in a snobbishly bourgeois, cricket-watching, club-tie-wearing Hague neighborhood, with an English mother and visits to Berkshire-based grandparents. He concludes with the funeral of “the last Englishman”, a Jewish refugee from Riga who shaped himself into a renowned Oxford don and who upheld Enlightenment-founded English liberalism: Sir Isaiah Berlin. Anglophilia’s double appeal to both snobs and liberals (in the classic sense) propels his diverting tour of England-lovers, including Voltaire and Goethe, exiles and freedom fighters such as Herzen and Mazzini, and eccentrics like the public school fan and Olympics founder Baron de Coubertin and the indefatigable architectural cataloguer Dr. Nikolaus Pevsner (author of the 50-volume Buildings of England), as well as some unreconciled haters, including the Londoner Karl Marx and Queen Victoria’s obstreperous grandson, Kaiser Wilhelm. Although Buruma enlivens his historical examples with contemporary parallels, particularly with modern Americophilia, his discussion is generally Eurocentric, omitting significant instances of Anglomania in Japan and the US, which has produced such great Englishmen as Henry James and T.S. Eliot. Anglomania’s subtext, more relevant for an England facing European union than one dwelling on imperial nostalgia and the ’special relationship,” is how England’s national identity is changing (not necessarily improving) at the century’s close. Its approach to serious subject matter under cover of self-deprecating wit and mild eccentricity is, as Spectator contributor Buruma knows, typically English. As Buruma’s colorfully drawn discursion illustrates, there’ll always be an England, as long as there are Anglophiles.

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-375-50206-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1999

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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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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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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