Relentless and inspiring, the life of Muhammad Yunus shows how capitalism and conscience need not be at odds.


Twenty-Seven Dollars and a Dream


An admiring portrait of a charismatic economist and entrepreneur who found his calling as Bangladesh’s “banker to the poor.”

Bankers aren’t often thought of as heroes, but Muhammad Yunus comes across as one in this flattering biography. Esty (Workplace Diversity, 1997, etc.) traces the unlikely career of Yunus, who jointly won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize with the Grameen Bank for battling poverty in his native Bangladesh. The “Twenty-Seven Dollars” in the book’s title refers to how Yunus stumbled onto his life mission in 1976 while a young college professor. He loaned $27 to a group of 42 villagers, allowing them to break free from the bonded labor that trapped many rural Bangladeshis. Yunus went on to found the Grameen Bank, specializing in microfinance—small, uncollateralized, easy-to-repay loans to poor residents, especially women. Esty chronicles the growth of the Grameen Bank, as well as Yunus’ later focus on “social businesses,” designed to address a social problem while making a profit. Microfinance as a policy tool has its critics, but Esty makes a compelling case that Yunus and his colleagues aided countless impoverished Bangladeshis while empowering women in a Muslim nation where they traditionally enjoyed few freedoms. Inspired by the author’s own interactions with Yunus, the fast-paced book holds lessons not only for social activists, but entrepreneurs as well. Yunus has founded more than 25 companies in industries ranging from telecommunications to renewable energy. Esty isn’t a detached biographer. She admits Yunus is her “hero” and that she aims to spread his story to a wider audience. As she sees it, Yunus is an iconoclastic visionary able to spur others to action yet ambitious enough to make powerful enemies. In 2011, he was ousted from the Grameen Bank in what the author believes was a politically motivated vendetta. Esty draws on her own background as a social psychologist and consultant to extract seven “patterns of action” she says underlie Yunus’ success. The result is a powerful template for any organization seeking to make a difference.

Relentless and inspiring, the life of Muhammad Yunus shows how capitalism and conscience need not be at odds.

Pub Date: March 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0615799933

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Katharine Esty Company

Review Posted Online: July 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.


New York Times columnist and editorial board member delivers a slim book for aspiring writers, offering saws and sense, wisdom and waggery, biases and biting sarcasm.

Klinkenborg (Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile, 2006), who’s taught for decades, endeavors to keep things simple in his prose, and he urges other writers to do the same. (Note: He despises abuses of the word as, as he continually reminds readers.) In the early sections, the author ignores traditional paragraphing so that the text resembles a long free-verse poem. He urges readers to use short, clear sentences and to make sure each one is healthy before moving on; notes that it’s acceptable to start sentences with and and but; sees benefits in diagramming sentences; stresses that all writing is revision; periodically blasts the formulaic writing that many (most?) students learn in school; argues that knowing where you’re headed before you begin might be good for a vacation, but not for a piece of writing; and believes that writers must trust readers more, and trust themselves. Most of Klinkenborg’s advice is neither radical nor especially profound (“Turn to the poets. / Learn from them”), and the text suffers from a corrosive fallacy: that if his strategies work for him they will work for all. The final fifth of the text includes some passages from writers he admires (McPhee, Oates, Cheever) and some of his students’ awkward sentences, which he treats analytically but sometimes with a surprising sarcasm that veers near meanness. He includes examples of students’ dangling modifiers, malapropisms, errors of pronoun agreement, wordiness and other mistakes.

Analyzing his craft, a careful craftsman urges with Thoreauvian conviction that writers should simplify, simplify, simplify.

Pub Date: Aug. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-26634-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2012

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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