Sobering reading for public health officials and infectious disease students and perhaps inspiration for would-be activists...

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THE END OF EPIDEMICS

THE LOOMING THREAT TO HUMANITY AND HOW TO STOP IT

A veteran global health professional explores the methods for preventing pandemics, an ever present threat to humankind.

Quick, an instructor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and chair of the Global Health Council, begins by assessing the many threats: overpopulation and expanded mobility thanks to travel or as a result of war; economic failings; weather disasters that lead to migrant movements and often end with malnourished masses in unsanitary camps; bioterrorism (it is remarkably easy to make ricin or spread anthrax); global warming, which is creating new environs for mosquitoes and other disease bearers; and factory farming, which is already leading to massive destructions of flocks to control bird flu. As a solution, the author offers his “Power of Seven” precepts: strong national leadership; resilient health care systems; research to promote active prevention and constant readiness; trustworthy communications; scientific innovation; resources and investment; strong networks of citizen activists (see what ACT UP volunteers were able to accomplish in the fight against AIDS). These are all fine approaches, and Quick’s chapters elaborating past failures when one or more of these guidelines was lacking are exemplary, as are his success stories. But are they viable in today’s world? For these approaches to work, there would need to be significant political will, doubtful given the trends toward authoritarian and xenophobic regimes. Perhaps the greater hurdle is the polarization of society and a growing lack of trust. The anti-vaccination believers and the West African communities who killed the medical workers who came to tell them not to touch their Ebola-dead relatives are painful examples of fear and distrust that no amount of reason will reverse. What can work is better communication at a local level, from peers. Another positive Quick points to is the success achieved through broad public-private collaborations, which have increased worldwide vaccination rates and expanded access to AIDS drugs in Africa.

Sobering reading for public health officials and infectious disease students and perhaps inspiration for would-be activists to get busy. For general readers: get your flu shot.

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-11777-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2017

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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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