Given the lack of developed policy, if you’re alarmed by the thought of Russian election tampering in 2016, you’re likely to...

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DAWN OF THE CODE WAR

AMERICA'S BATTLE AGAINST RUSSIA, CHINA, AND THE RISING GLOBAL CYBER THREAT

“We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to ruin the internet for the rest of us.” So warns the former assistant attorney general for national security in this urgent book.

How much does cybercrime cost? “It’s not like the early days of the FBI when you could just total up the cost of the nation’s stolen cars or add up the amount of money that walked out the front door with bank robbers like John Dillinger,” writes Carlin, in a book co-authored by Wired writer Graff (Raven Rock, 2017, etc.). Carlin adds to a recent flurry of books about hacking, cybersecurity, and related issues with this smart if sometimes seemingly overwrought examination of the battles raging behind computer screens around the world. He answers his own question: The cost is in the hundreds of billions of dollars in actual costs and lost productivity. That’s just the beginning of it. After the first wave of hackers—Carlin puts Napster and file-sharing archvillains Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker in that early group—have come thousands of Chinese operatives, some masquerading as students or researchers, whose job it has been to steal advanced technology for reverse-engineering back home. Writes Carlin, indignantly, if the Chinese army had arrived at a Boeing plant and loaded trucks with carton after carton of schematics, the U.S. response would have been swift, but as it is, policy and sanctions are both poorly conceived and coordinated. The author notes that two decades into the internet era, the Obama administration “was still trying to make sense of the patchwork of roles and responsibilities that agencies had assumed as the world shifted from analog to digital.” Given the threats Carlin enumerates, including election hacking and the theft of intelligence files, responses “created and refined in real-time” are increasingly necessary—but not forthcoming.

Given the lack of developed policy, if you’re alarmed by the thought of Russian election tampering in 2016, you’re likely to be even more so come the midterms—and by this dire book.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5417-7383-7

Page Count: 464

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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