There’s no good news in this book, which both admonishes and forewarns. Somber but necessary reading for those interested in...




Of partisans, trolls, and spooks: a stern dissection of the 2016 election.

Exactly who planned and executed the Russian hacking of the 2016 election is not yet wholly known outside cybercrime circles, but it’s clear that the beneficiary was Donald Trump. As Jamieson (Chair, Annenberg Public Policy Center/Univ. of Pennsylvania; Electing the President, 2012: The Insiders' View, 2013, etc.) writes, if you were to war-game out that cybercrime, you’d wind up with numerous scenarios. Only one is truly negative to the Russians: “The cyberattackers are unmasked by a vigilant intelligence community, condemned by those in both major political parties…the Russian messaging…blocked or labeled a Russian propaganda,” sanctions put in place, and so on. That did not happen. Characterizing the hacking not as “interference” or “meddling” but as an act of cyberwar demanding proportional response, Jamieson surveys the damage: Millions of Americans swallowed Russian-generated lies and went at each other even as the “electoral systems of twenty-one states by one count and thirty-nine by another were hacked.” Allowing that it wasn’t Russians but American voters (and the Electoral College) who put Trump in office, the author performs an after-battle analysis of the “social disruption,” with hackers hooking former FBI Director James Comey into reopening the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails and even gaming the presidential debates. Jamieson is clear on why the Russians would have targeted Clinton; she is just as clear that the “legacy media” failed in their task and swallowed narrative lines whole—attributing misinformation to WikiLeaks, for one, and not “St. Petersburg,” bypassing any discussion of Russian involvement until well after the fact. Chalking up the knowns and unknowns, the author concludes that by commission on one hand and omission on the other, both of the leading nominees "increased our collective vulnerability to Russian machinations in very different ways”—machinations, she adds, that aren’t likely to stop.

There’s no good news in this book, which both admonishes and forewarns. Somber but necessary reading for those interested in the democratic process and its enemies.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-19-091581-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.


The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?