An informative study that conveys a subtle but powerful argument for the attraction of anti-liberal populism.

THE LIGHT THAT FAILED

WHY THE WEST IS LOSING THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY

Two academics and policy experts bring considerable erudition to the conundrum of why anti-liberalism has gained currency since the fall of the Soviet Union, when the world seemed happy to see it go.

According to Krastev (After Europe, 2017, etc.), a fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, and Holmes (New York Univ. School of Law; The Quest for the Trinity: The Doctrine of God in Scripture, History and Modernity, 2012, etc.), once communism fell, the “radiant future” of Enlightenment democracy—encompassing a separation of powers, checks and balances, free elections, freedom of the press, and so on—seemed the sole alternative model. However, in chapters moving from Central and Eastern Europe through Russia and China, the authors show how imitating the "masters" created a groundswell of resentment and backlash. In Central Europe, Hungary and Poland were at first content to imitate the Western model. Unfortunately, “Central and East European versions of liberalism had been indelibly tainted by two decades of rising social inequality, pervasive corruption, and the morally arbitrary distribution of private property into the hands of a few.” Krastev and Holmes succinctly explain why this brand of populism and nativism would ring familiar in Russia, China, and eventually in the United States under Donald Trump. The authors also cogently explore the anti-immigration hysteria that has continued to plague these countries. In Russia, the authors see a convulsion of “aggressive isolationism” at work in addition to an effective destabilizing revenge theory bent on revealing the mask of hypocrisy of the U.S., especially in foreign affairs. Meanwhile, China, once an imitator of the Soviet Union, has ceased exporting its brand of Maoism and is reaping grandly the effects of centralized economic control.

An informative study that conveys a subtle but powerful argument for the attraction of anti-liberal populism.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64313-369-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

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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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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