Unrelenting invective for Trump haters, who will love it; Trump lovers won’t read it.

TRUMP IS F*CKING CRAZY

(THIS IS NOT A JOKE)

A veteran liberal journalist excoriates Donald Trump in a collection of commentaries from the Resistance, his web series hosted by GQ.

Beginning with the 2016 presidential campaign and concluding in late June 2017, these pieces pound away at a series of complaints—some profoundly serious—about Trump, complaints ranging from what Olbermann (Pitchforks and Torches: The Worst of the Worst, from Beck, Bill, and Bush to Palin and Other Posturing Republicans, 2010, etc.) sees as Trump’s habitual lying, the Russian involvement in the election, the attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, the last-minute involvement of the FBI in the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the firing of James Comey, and the contortions exhibited by Trump officials who defend him through everything. The author pretty much exhausts the thesaurus in his name-calling, and he argues that Trump is a modern Nero; Napoleon; a latter-day Nixon. The author also has harsh things to say about the media (looking for opportunities to call Trump “presidential”), Republicans, and Trump supporters of all stripes (Kellyanne Conway is “Kellyanne Con Job”). Olbermann is fond of some rhetorical devices: an ancient one, anaphora (the repetition of key words or phrases at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph: “Who else but a jackass…”), as well as a more recent one (The. Placement. Of. A. Period. At. The. End. Of. Each. Word.). Olbermann is also not above self-promotion of his own—he mentions the number of visitors to his site and credits himself for a few other good things—but for the most part, his focus is on the man he despises and on the minions who support him. The pieces are generally short and sharply focused on something quite recent at the time of composition—Trump’s post-election talk to the CIA, the testimony of Sally Yates—and the prose is consistently aggressive and often abrasive.

Unrelenting invective for Trump haters, who will love it; Trump lovers won’t read it.

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-53386-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Blue Rider Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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. 30, 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.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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