A well-researched and provocative analysis offering hope and optimism for our future.

THE DAY THE WORLD STOPS SHOPPING

HOW ENDING CONSUMERISM SAVES THE ENVIRONMENT AND OURSELVES

An examination of the effects that the end of consumerism would have on society.

Many politicians insist the economy will collapse if spending slows, while environmentalists warn we cannot sustain our current level of consumption. MacKinnon ponders what would really happen if we stopped shopping. While many of the concepts are familiar, the author digs deeper than most. Rather than allowing his conclusions to be directed by the theories of others, MacKinnon traveled the world, conducting interviews with experts and gathering information to support his findings. Among other places, the author visited Namibia, Ecuador, Finland, and Japan. The proliferation of the global pandemic, which occurred while MacKinnon was writing the book, allowed him to examine, in real time, the effects that changes in consumer spending could have. His conclusions should encourage readers to carefully consider their own habits. Throughout history, consumers have stopped shopping, albeit temporarily, for various reasons, including war and economic recession. Prior to the pandemic, MacKinnon notes, consumer consumption was often driven by impulse buying, vanity, and the desire to keep up with others. While consumerism initially increased at the beginning of the pandemic, as people began hoarding household and food items out of fear of shortages, a shift soon emerged. People continued to shop, but their purchases were more in line with intrinsic values, including spending more time with family and in nature. Rather than spending their money on luxury vacations and cars, consumers chose products such as camping gear, gardening supplies, books, and board games. They also sought out higher-quality and longer-lasting products. As MacKinnon shows, such shifts would likely continue to offer numerous benefits for all, including improved health and a cleaner environment. He cites a “humble goal: to reduce consumption by 5% across the rich world.” That shift, he writes, “might be the end of the world as we know it. It will not be the end of the world.”

A well-researched and provocative analysis offering hope and optimism for our future.

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-285602-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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A PROMISED LAND

In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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