A strongly argued account that provides useful ammunition for anyone seeking to effect change in a medical system that...

ONE NATION, UNINSURED

WHY THE U.S. HAS NO NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Every one of the Western industrialized powers guarantees its citizens comprehensive coverage for essential health care—except the United States. Sociologist Quadagno (The Color of Welfare, 1994) ably explores the logic behind this appalling fact.

It’s a complex question, as Quadagno allows: Amortization and other risk-analysis models mingle with myriad underwriting plans and the plain high cost of medical care to make comprehensive health care a maddeningly elusive goal. And then, of course, the powers that be don’t want it. It is for those reasons, but not those reasons alone, that so many Americans lack basic coverage—and their numbers are larger by far than the official count of 45 million in 2003, “because many more people are uninsured for some period over any two-year time span.” The poor are almost always uninsured, except under the most generalized of plans; in a two-year span, nearly 60 percent of non-elderly Hispanics were also uninsured, as against 43 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of whites. Part of the problem is that minorities are less likely than whites to have jobs that offer health care benefits. But attempts to include all Americans in a national plan have been stymied for more than a century. Heroes are few and villains many here. When Franklin Roosevelt attempted to include health insurance in the 1935 Social Security Act, the American Medical Association successfully argued that it “smacked of socialism and communism and might incite revolution.” When Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower attempted health care reforms during their administrations, they met much the same opposition, this time with the strong backing of the insurance industry. And, as Quadagno relates, the present administration is indisposed toward any reform that would threaten the status quo, period, even as the average annual cost of a family policy in 2003 rose to $9,068.

A strongly argued account that provides useful ammunition for anyone seeking to effect change in a medical system that willfully excludes so many who so need it.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-19-516039-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

TOMBSTONE

THE EARP BROTHERS, DOC HOLLIDAY, AND THE VENDETTA RIDE FROM HELL

Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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