A different, provocative view of the challenge emerging in Asia.

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THE FOURTH REVOLUTION

THE GLOBAL RACE TO REINVENT THE STATE

Micklethwait and Wooldridge (co-authors: God Is Back: How the Global Revival of Faith Is Changing the World, 2009, etc.), editor in chief and management editor, respectively, of the Economist, anticipate a coming revolution in methods of government on par with the emergence of the welfare state after World War II.

The authors represent the British brand of liberalism, which is actually closer to what many Americans call conservatism, on such issues as social welfare, government finance and debt. They offer a broad review of the evolution of governments over the last three or four centuries as a backdrop to their envisioned future state, which includes elements now emerging in Singapore, China and India, as well as Denmark and Sweden. Initially, the authors focus on the education of future government elites in the technical management skills required to address the increasing challenges of globalization. The Chinese program “is about delivering efficient government in the here and now, about providing cheap health care and disciplined schools.” Examples from Denmark and Sweden show how the “one-size- fits-all offerings” of the social-democratic welfare state are being transformed by incorporating autonomy and initiative modeled from the private sector and opening up state-operated services like health care. India's plentiful and cheap labor force provides a platform for a new phase of globalization. The United States and European Union figure in this model more as problems than participants. The American “mess” is “becoming increasingly costly,” write the authors, “taking a toll on America’s image—and, by extension, democracy’s image—abroad.” Micklethwait and Wooldridge stress that China now believes there is less to be gained from studying the West but much for the West to fear as China sets out to transform government as it did capitalism a few decades ago.

A different, provocative view of the challenge emerging in Asia.

Pub Date: May 19, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-59420-539-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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