A cogent argument for gender parity and a revealing look at cultural change.

READ REVIEW

BROAD INFLUENCE

HOW WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE WAY AMERICA WORKS

How women effect change once they reach a critical mass.

As a political correspondent for TIME, journalist Newton-Small investigated the response of women senators to the government shutdown in 2013. Her article about their bipartisan efforts to foster negotiations led her to a broader investigation into women’s influence in government, the judiciary, business, police forces, and the military. Interviews with more than 200 women inform her thoughtful, often inspiring debut book. The author argues that once women’s participation reaches at least 20 percent of a group, they can “change the culture and influence outcomes.” She found this “critical mass” in Congress, now 20 percent female; the current presidential administration (30 percent), and federal judgeships (35 percent)—but not in the private sector. On corporate boards, “women who served alone were often ignored…and their views discounted” until they numbered three or more. Many of her subjects are prominent, outspoken, and recognizable: Nancy Pelosi, for example, who “played politics on a man’s field and played it better than any of them,” and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. But Newton-Small also explores the contributions of Tulsi Gabbard, who served in Iraq, was elected to Congress from Hawaii, and educated her male peers about women’s military experiences; Erie Meyer, who left the “frat-boy culture” of a tech firm to work in the Ohio Attorney General’s office; and Elizabeth Bondurant, a New Jersey police chief who believes that women are more likely than men to defuse a hostile situation through talking. From these conversations, the author concludes that women bring particular skills and perspectives to any culture, including facility with communication and propensity to listen, compromise, and form alliances. She also finds “a good deal of evidence that women are inherently risk-averse,” making it less likely that the scandal incited by Lehman Brothers would have occurred at Lehman Sisters.

A cogent argument for gender parity and a revealing look at cultural change.

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61893-155-9

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Time Inc. Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more