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BIG DIRTY MONEY

THE SHOCKING INJUSTICE AND UNSEEN COST OF WHITE COLLAR CRIME

A significant manifesto for judicial reform that aims at cracking the cabal of big-money grifters at the top.

A scathing indictment of white-collar crime and its unpunished practitioners.

So-called street crime—robbery, burglary, etc.—costs American society about $16 billion per year, according to FBI statistics. Conversely, “white collar crime in America, such as fraud and embezzlement, costs victims an estimated $300 billion to $800 billion per year.” So observes Vermont Law School professor and legal activist Taub, who adds that, as in other aspects of life, the holders of the big ticket pretty much get away with it every time out. Even if they don’t, they get a pass, as when in February 2020 Donald Trump pardoned various perpetrators of “bribery, investment fraud, public corruption, computer hacking, an extortion cover-up, money laundering, conspiracy to defraud the federal government, obstruction of justice, mail fraud, wire fraud.” Taub adds, “No white collar crime left behind.” The laxity with which white-collar crime is treated speaks to social inequality, and the author looks deeply into cases such as that of the opioid-peddling Sackler family, who were given ample time to hide their assets offshore when caught violating federal drug laws. Even though three top officials of their Purdue Pharma pleaded guilty, none served prison time. “They are as bad as the drug pusher on the street corner or the kingpins behind the cartel,” Taub notes with appropriately righteous indignation. For their part, those caught insider trading face an essentially toothless Securities and Exchange Commission. And so on. In this steely-eyed examination of these brazen criminals, Taub holds that this lack of effective punishment merely encourages the wealthy to prey on the rest of society. Though it would be impossible and even undesirable to prosecute every one of them, “we do need to make an example of those who are the worst offenders”—especially when a “lying, cheating, megalomaniac American president” is available to issue pardons like so many doses of Oxycontin.

A significant manifesto for judicial reform that aims at cracking the cabal of big-money grifters at the top.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984879-97-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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