Sobering, smart reading with many pointed lessons for activists.

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FEAR CITY

NEW YORK'S FISCAL CRISIS AND THE RISE OF AUSTERITY POLITICS

New York may be an amusement park for the very rich these days, but as this grimly detailed historical account reveals, there was a time….

“Ford to City: Drop Dead.” The New York Daily News headline of Oct. 30, 1975, still resounds. It wouldn’t be long before Ford gave way to Carter and the Summer of Sam, but the president’s shock-doctrine belief that the U.S. had entered “an age of austerity, in which it was no longer possible for the government to pay for many social services to which the American people had grown accustomed,” has also remained constant in the years since. Phillips-Fein (History/NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study; Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan, 2009, etc.) deftly recounts the clash between government entities and vested interests as New York struggled to cope with slashed social service budgets, funding that contributed to what economists call public goods of use to society at large but that was frowned on by the dawning every-man-for-himself conservative movement that has since held sway. Those austerity budgets soon threatened to bring the city to the edge of bankruptcy, which was itself a shock doctrine all its own—for, as Phillips-Fein writes, “the financial collapse of New York would be the ultimate symbol of American economic decline, a demonstration to the whole world that the United States was no longer the preeminent nation it had been over the postwar years.” Given events since, New York’s crisis—and the author’s astute account of it—seems oddly timely, a swirl of “crisis budgets” and union-busting, of collapsing public education systems and declining labor power. In the end, she writes, as New York went in the ’70s and beyond, so went the nation, from a time when government held public goods to be of value to one in which private enterprise is the “sole way to fuel social development”—perfectly consonant, that is to say, with an economy and culture of inequality.

Sobering, smart reading with many pointed lessons for activists.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9525-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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