A telling story of justice’s grinding wheels, and a crackerjack resource volume on gay legal history. (8 pp. photos, not...
The unsettled legalities of gay rights—seen through the lens of Supreme Court decisions—are fully and fascinatingly explored by Detroit News journalists Murdoch and Price (And Say Hi to Joyce, 1995).
As Murdoch and Price make amply clear, the Supreme Court has “determined not to be an engine driving social change in the area of gay rights.” While the authors appreciate that the judiciary is a deliberative (rather than executive) body, they fault it nevertheless for having “been a drag on the nation, holding back the pace of progress toward the full acceptance of gay people.” The court is notoriously secretive, so Murdoch and Price pulled together their materials from the National Archives, newspapers, justices’ papers, and (perhaps most significantly) interviews with the principals and the justices’ clerks. Starting with the court’s decision in favor of One, The Homosexual Magazine in 1958, and continuing through the ruling that upheld the dismissal of a gay scoutmaster in 2000, Murdoch and Price explain the constitutional issues involved—from freedom and fairness to privacy and free speech and due process. In the process they provide a primer on the ways of the Supreme Court—its curious isolation from the involved parties and each justice’s isolation from all the others—and sketch the personalities of William O. Douglas, John Paul Stevens, William J. Brennan, and many others. They include Brennan’s dissenting opinion in a case involving the dismissal of a bisexual schoolteacher, Kameny’s 1960 formulation of “an equal-rights position that would provide much of the intellectual underpinnings for what would be known as the gay-rights movement,” and an examination of sodomy law and its infringement “on the right of privacy and free association.” Among the historical tidbits included is a 1950s New York Times headline: “Perverts Called Government Peril.”A telling story of justice’s grinding wheels, and a crackerjack resource volume on gay legal history. (8 pp. photos, not seen)
Pub Date: June 1, 2001
Page Count: 592
Publisher: Basic Books
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2001
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by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...
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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
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
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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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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