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THE CHILD CATCHERS

RESCUE, TRAFFICKING, AND THE NEW GOSPEL OF ADOPTION

Journalist and Religion Dispatches associate editor Joyce (Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement, 2009) broadens the understanding of adoption's conundrums, not only within the United States, but also internationally, with deep investigations of children from Liberia, Ethiopia, Korea, Rwanda, Haiti and China.

Perhaps the least publicized development within the adoption realm during the past few decades is the aggressive involvement of evangelical churches. Parishioners, even those with multiple biological children, are adopting orphans from overseas, as well as many children who have been wrenched from biological mothers (and sometimes fathers) as part of for-profit schemes. Some of the church members see adoption as a faith-based mission—as an alternative to abortion but also part of a biblical mandate to care for the oppressed and impoverished while simultaneously saving souls. Joyce explains that although such adoptions might seem like a win-win solution, in fact, birth mothers and families, especially in third-world countries, are torn apart by the international transactions. Joyce studied academic treatises and traveled widely across the U.S. and to locales in other nations rarely visited by tourists. The number of compelling anecdotes and case studies is impressive. Whenever ethically defensible, Joyce uses real names and normally indicates fictitious names when she saw no moral alternative. Although the overall picture is grim despite tsunamis of good intentions, the grimness is occasionally relieved by righteous individuals and institutions trying to do better. One of the relatively upbeat case studies focuses on the megachurch of celebrity pastor Rick Warren. He admits his evangelical members involved in international adoptions have not always proceeded perfectly, but Joyce suggests that he is sincere about learning from mistakes in a drastically shifting landscape. Groundbreaking investigative and explanatory reporting.

 

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-58648-942-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

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

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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