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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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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