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

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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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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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