Demanding better, Jones provides a wise, measured look at the economic and social landscape of America.



A prominent Black activist and YA author delivers a damning, resounding study of the many ways in which fiscal equality is denied to non-White people in the U.S.

“We know we’re equal to white people,” writes Jones. “Only a person in the deepest throes of the white supremacist delusion would say we aren’t. But now we’re fighting for equity. And we won’t get to equity until we rethink the system from the ground up.” By way of a pointed, memorable example, she looks into the history of Monopoly, which, she holds, was designed to teach players not how to get rich but how the financial system is rigged in favor of would-be monopolists—and certainly against Black people, who are legally thwarted or beset with violence whenever it appears that they are making advances. Whites, Jones notes, hold 90% of all wealth in the U.S. even though they represent less than 60% of the population. One reason for this bounty is that home loans and other intergenerational wealth-building instruments, including college loans, were readily extended to Whites while being withheld from Blacks. Jones fires with both barrels, sometimes inaccurately: It’s true that Black popular culture has been appropriated without proper compensation, though not in the case of Elvis Presley’s hit “Hound Dog,” which she attributes to Big Mama Thornton when in fact it was written by Leiber & Stoller. Still, the author’s points are well taken: Black communities can close the wealth gap only with resources that pass from one generation to the next. Jones advises measures for a sort of Reconstruction 2.0 that would channel reparations to institutions and not individuals. “Structural issues are what brought us here,” she writes, “and so structural changes should walk us out of here.” The author also argues that self-improvement, from education to exercise to financial literacy, is “the most revolutionary thing you can do” for people within the Black community.”

Demanding better, Jones provides a wise, measured look at the economic and social landscape of America.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-80512-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.


A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.


The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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