Plus ça change? No, the more it changes, the weirder the world gets. For policy wonks with an eye toward the middle term,...

THE SEVENTH SENSE

POWER, FORTUNE, AND SURVIVAL IN THE AGE OF NETWORKS

Salutary futuristic reading for those still inclined to “use a mechanical way of thinking in an age of complexity.”

Has there ever been an age without complexity and confusion? Probably not. However, as Kissinger Associates CEO Ramo (The Age of the Unthinkable: Why the New World Disorder Constantly Surprises Us And What We Can Do About It, 2009, etc.) writes, this is a time of disruption that lends itself to “seventh sense” thinking—in less trendy terms, the ability to discern how things connect to other things in nodes and networks, “to look at any object and see the way in which it is changed by connection.” These networks can be benign; they can be useful, as in digitized library connections; and they can be harmful, in part owing to the “hyperdense concentrations of power” that are produced by networks, introducing opportunities for chaos and complexity into situations that are already fraught with them. Ramo quotes approvingly from the philosopher Paul Virilio in this regard: “When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck.” Shipwrecks are all around us, as witness the network that is the Islamic State group, something that old-school thinking might imagine can be fought by air forces and bunker-buster bombs but that the Seventh Sensible would know requires different tools for dismantling. Ramo is sometimes vague but sometimes profound in a postmodern way that’s not the usual stuff of Washington think tanks: we have been busy “murdering the exotic,” he writes, with our first-world technologies and high-speed Internet connections, so we shouldn’t be surprised when “from time to time, the exotic shows up and murders us right back.” It all makes for provocative reading, and if the author is light on specifics, he offers plenty of interesting scenarios for such things as global power shifts, AI–enabled weapons systems, and the like.

Plus ça change? No, the more it changes, the weirder the world gets. For policy wonks with an eye toward the middle term, Ramo provides a good effort to make sense of it all.

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-28506-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2016

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

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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