A passionate, important study of the current affairs of a volatile region.

VIGIL

HONG KONG ON THE BRINK

A longtime observer of Hong Kong protest movements argues that the autonomy of the region is being eroded by Beijing authority—not gradually and probably irreparably.

In this well-organized, strikingly relevant work, Wasserstrom (History/Univ. of California, Irvine; Chinese Characters: Profiles of Fast-Changing Lives in a Fast-Changing Land, 2012, etc.) argues that the designation of Hong Kong by China and Britain in the handover of 1997 as a Special Administrative Region enjoying “a high degree of autonomy” is being threatened. While originally the Western assumption was that Hong Kong, as the region bringing much of the economic boom to China, would be too valuable to Beijing to disrupt by its repressive measures, the reality seems to be that Beijing’s tentacles are pervasive and continue to tighten. Disappearances of protestors, forced confessions, the threat of extradition law, the installation of puppet legislators, the resistance to universal suffrage—these are just a few of the familiar “screws” that mainland officials are implementing. The author provides a penetrating review of the situation through on-the-ground reporting and interviews with protest leaders like Joshua Wong and Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong. Wasserstrom works through the history of the region as a British colonial hub of trade in the mid-1800s and its subsequent enormous economic growth, overtaking even Shanghai after World War II. “Shanghai, after falling in 1949,” writes the author, “was an example of a Golden Goose that the Communists killed not long after taking control of it.” While there have been many victories for the democratic movement since renewed protests this year—e.g., pushing back against a new “moral and national education plan,” which smacked of censorship—the protest movement’s other demands—directly electing the chief executive, the release of prisoners, investigation of police brutality, and immediate universal suffrage, among them—have not been met. Without civil disobedience and international pressure, Wasserstrom fears that Hong Kong will become a “captive colony of Beijing.”

A passionate, important study of the current affairs of a volatile region.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-73362-374-2

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Columbia Global Reports

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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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

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