MIAMI

Not unexpectedly, and with customary flair, Didion ignores the traditional features of Miami, looks briefly at tense race relations, white flight, and a saturated real-estate market, and concentrates on a kind of second city, the community of Cuban exiles who have prospered even as they pursue la lucha, the straggle. This is, of course, the kind of scene she favors: political intrigue and moral issues dominate conversations, and young girls celebrate their birthdays dressed in tiaras and fur-trimmed capes. Although her focus is idiosyncratically selective and at times her flinty, mannered style nearly parodies itself ("Hot dogs were passed, and Coca-cola spilled"), overall she is in control of this consistently engrossing material. In the 60's, Cuban refugees took the unskilled jobs that might have been offered to blacks. Many also worked (without formal government acknowledgement) for the CIA, fueled by a series of apparently intentional deceptions about policy. Exile was—is—"the organizing principle" of their lives, and the men of the 2506 Brigade (the unsupported invasion force) remain grand heroes. "I would say that John F. Kennedy is still the number two most hated man in Miami," a failed mayoral candidate volunteers, and Didion emphasizes reports linking exiles to the assassination (and reminds of Cuban involvement in Watergate and the Iran/contra tangles). Nowadays many of these men are wealthy and powerful, highly visible within the exile community, often unknown to non-Cuban citizens. Much of this information comes from conventional sources: the Herald, passionate loyalists, a university study. But this Miami is no "rich and wicked pastel boomtown," as the semi-official image would have it. Didion presents a more complex and genuinely dramatic situation, inflecting her work with astute observations about the city's unique political circumstances and lingering on the kinds of details that have colored her other writings: a hotel offering "guerrilla discounts," a gun shop advertising Father's Day specials, house blessed with "Unusual Security and Ready Access to the Ocean." Another presistently stylish report that, with its JFK references and drug-runner allusions, has even more outreach than usual.

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 1987

ISBN: 0679781803

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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