A deeply forensic investigation of the depth of corruption within FIFA and its regional bodies that also shows how much work...

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HOW THE U.S. BLEW THE WHISTLE ON THE WORLD'S BIGGEST SPORTS SCANDAL

Investigating and prosecuting corruption in the world’s most popular sport.

On May 27, 2015, after several years of slow, meticulous investigation on the part of a number of agencies, most notably the American FBI and IRS, Swiss police conducted sweeping arrests of large numbers of high-ranking functionaries gathered for elections for Zurich-based FIFA, world soccer’s governing body. Corruption across the sport has been endemic for decades, and in this fine, deeply researched, painstakingly assembled book, BuzzFeed News investigative reporter Bensinger shows how American agencies homed in on corruption within CONCACAF, the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean. Fortunately, the narrative is not as ham-handed as the subtitle, which turns the years of investigation into some sort of simplistic nationalist triumph. Working diligently for years, FBI and IRS officials revealed patterns of corruption—bribery, graft, outright theft—much of which passed through American banks and other institutions and which amounted, in their estimation, to racketeering. A focus on the two highest-ranking CONCACAF officials—the deeply compromised American Chuck Blazer and Trinidadian Jack Warner—expanded to include a large swath of FIFA’s hierarchy, especially in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean. The book is deeply sourced. However, because of Bensinger’s reliance on hundreds of hours of interviews with anonymous sources, it is somewhat thinly documented, and readers will have to trust the force of the argument and the mountains of clear evidence (as well as the successful prosecutions). As the author notes, “the saga of corruption within FIFA and worldwide soccer as a whole is immeasurably complicated.” Perhaps most shocking is that there is little evidence that FIFA and organizations such as CONCACAF have really cleaned up their acts.

A deeply forensic investigation of the depth of corruption within FIFA and its regional bodies that also shows how much work goes into high-level criminal investigations.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-3390-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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