In addition to in-depth research, Solomon enlists his own countless interviews and extensive on-site reporting to provide a...

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THE IRAN WARS

SPY GAMES, BANK BATTLES, AND THE SECRET DEALS THAT RESHAPED THE MIDDLE EAST

A thorough yet concise survey of Iran’s buildup of nuclear technology since the 1980s, its troubling exporting of Shiite insurgency in countries around it, and the changing American reaction.

Wall Street Journal chief foreign affairs correspondent Solomon offers an evenhanded look at the backdoor schemes involving the building of Iran’s nuclear weapons and the world players involved in and against its machinations. The culmination of a nuclear treaty between Iran and the U.S. by Secretary of State John Kerry and team in July 2015 (and the lifting of sanctions against Iran) proves anticlimactic as a drastic change of course since the George W. Bush administration—as Solomon notes, he is unsure of Iran’s willingness to stick to the agreements. Mistrust on both sides has plagued the relationship since the 1979 Iranian Revolution: Iran is still smarting from American influence in the region and resentful that the Persian empire has been “wronged and persecuted throughout its history, particularly by its Arab neighbors in collusion with the West.” Ayatollah Khomeini’s military command, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and lethal intelligence unit, the Quds Force, were created to export the revolution and aid its allies in the region, what became known as the “axis of resistance”: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories, and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime. With care and precision, Solomon tracks Iran’s buildup of nuclear capability and the complicated cast of characters involved. Under presidents Bush and Obama, the U.S., as a staunch ally of Israel and eventual supporter of the rebels attempting to topple the Assad regime, has considered Iran its largest national security crisis and worked assiduously behind the scenes to garner world support for hefty economic sanctions. Further complicating matters are Iran’s ties to Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Yet by all accounts, this long-standing “blood feud” cannot hold, and a new relationship must be forged.

In addition to in-depth research, Solomon enlists his own countless interviews and extensive on-site reporting to provide a sound, timely, authoritative exposé.

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9364-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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