Next book

DYING OF WHITENESS

HOW THE POLITICS OF RACIAL RESENTMENT IS KILLING AMERICA'S HEARTLAND

Long on description, shorter on prescription; still, a provocative, instructive contribution to the literature of public...

Nationalism, meet mortality: A social scientist and psychiatrist examines the interplay of racial identity and health.

Metzl (Center for Medicine, Health, and Society/Vanderbilt Univ.; The Protest Psychosis: How Schizophrenia Became a Black Disease, 2010, etc.) identifies several public health trends related to white identity politics and the left-behind sentiments of its adherents. One epidemiological chain goes like this: Whites without opportunity in the hinterlands drop out of high school at ever higher rates. According to studies by the author and others, “failure to attain a high school diploma correlated with nine years of life lost, in conjunction with rising rates of smoking, illnesses such as diabetes, and missed doctor visits.” Want to guarantee a disaffected white rural populace? Slash the education budget, as former Kansas governor and Trump appointee Sam Brownback did. Similarly, Metzl lucidly examines rising rates of suicide by gun, noting that from 2009 to 2015, “non-Hispanic white men accounted for nearly 80 percent of all gun suicides in the United States, despite representing less than 35 percent of the total population.” Although gun suicide is a clear threat to the public health, “whiteness” includes adherence to views that privilege the Second Amendment at the expense of any public good. In other words, although everyone knows there’s a problem, the problem is variously attributed to nonwhite criminality or mental illness, not the easy availability of guns and lack of background screening. Furthermore, writes the author, the numbers point to the fact that “non-Hispanic white, male, self-identified conservative Republicans over the age of thirty-five overwhelmingly owned and carried the most guns in the country.” Opposition to the Affordable Care Act has hinged on the notion that the undeserving (read: nonwhites) are free riders on a system that the government has no business being involved in. And so forth. While Metzl notes that white identity politics has enjoyed great successes, he concludes that they come at significant cost and “heighten the calculus of risk.”

Long on description, shorter on prescription; still, a provocative, instructive contribution to the literature of public health as well as of contemporary politics.

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5416-4498-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Basic Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Next book

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 18


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Next book

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Close Quickview