A cleareyed, if dismaying analysis of the new normal, “a qualitatively different form of capitalism” for the 21st century.

THE END OF NORMAL

THE GREAT CRISIS AND THE FUTURE OF GROWTH

A renowned economist argues that the days of easy growth and full employment are over.

Following the crisis of 2008, economists scrambled to “explain” the financial meltdown, variously blaming the government, banks or income inequality for the most severe setback since the Great Depression. Almost all have offered prescriptions for restoring economic health; almost all presume as normal a growth rate that, but for a blip in the 1970s, has persisted since the end of World War II. Galbraith (Government/Business Relations/Univ. of Texas; Inequality and Instability: A Study of the World Economy Just Before the Great Crisis, 2012, etc.) dissents. Throughout his discussion, he slaps around economists from the left and right, chiding them for their insularity, their reluctance to widen their perspective and their unwillingness to concede that their theoretical models rest on radically transformed ground. We face a far different future, he insists, with the world economy no longer under the financial or military control of the United States and its allies, with energy markets costly and uncertain, new technologies destroying more jobs than they create and the private financial sector no longer supercharging growth. Under these new conditions, preserving post-WWII growth rates is impossible. Instead, the most we can hope for is an era of “slow growth,” engineering the economy “to grow at a low, stable, positive rate for a long time” and adjusting ourselves “materially and psychologically to that prospect.” Some of Galbraith’s remedies are likely to draw fire—increase social services, decrease the scale of the military, increase the minimum wage—but his forceful prose and admittedly provocative suggestions invite argument. General readers may find some of his discussion a bit too insider-y, but students of economics will enjoy the robust, fearless rebuke he delivers to some of the discipline’s giants.

A cleareyed, if dismaying analysis of the new normal, “a qualitatively different form of capitalism” for the 21st century.

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1451644920

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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