A fresh and provocative take on the economic reformism of the 1930's. This is ``not a book about the introduction of the welfare state,'' writes Schwarz (History/Northern Illinois University), but rather an investigation of what happened to capital under FDR and his successors—how it was made available to different people, organizations, and regions, and how new markets were opened for it in backward areas, first in the US, then abroad. Schwarz offers a bold exploration of how, in the face of a ``capital shortage,'' FDR broke up what he called ``static wealth'' and—at least according to the author—remade the world. One technique was ``state cartelism,'' whereby the government brought together businesses in similar industries; a more powerful strategy was ``state capitalism,'' under which government invested funds strategically to stimulate the economy in particular business and geographic areas, as with the TVA. Schwarz traces the institution of these reforms back to wartime powers that had come into being under Woodrow Wilson—powers exercised by men like William McAdoo, Bernard Baruch, and, surprisingly, Herbert Hoover, a tireless sponsor of business associations under Harding. Later figures like Jesse Jones (FDR's ``banker for twelve years''), William O. Douglas (nemesis of Wall Street), corporate lawyer Jerome Frank, and Felix Frankfurter (who brought ``tax-and-spend'' economist John Maynard Keynes into focus) are presented as dynamic but self-interested men whose energy and zest for competition are almost palpable as they struggle to shape history to the contours of their favored ideas, groups, or regions. But what particularly matters, says Schwarz, is that the control and placement of capital changed: Rather than banks deciding on projects of limited scale with rates of return carefully considered, even projects of international scale—like the Marshall Plan—became thinkable. A challenging work that, by extrapolation, speaks to our current economic problems.

Pub Date: April 4, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-57437-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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