A potent mix of theory and practice that runs from didactic to inspiring. A good addition to the growing library on fighting...

ILL WINDS

SAVING DEMOCRACY FROM RUSSIAN RAGE, CHINESE AMBITION, AND AMERICAN COMPLACENCY

A leading scholar of democracy combines his academic research with his direct experience to piece together a wide-ranging study of the creation—and possible destruction—of that specific form of governance.

Although aware that the United States has termed itself a democracy since the 18th century, Diamond (In Search of Democracy, 2015, etc.), the founding editor of the Journal of Democracy and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, writes that the nation never achieved that goal until 1965, with the Voting Rights Act, when meaningful voting rights became a reality for all adults, at least in theory. “Only in 1968,” he writes, “could an American presidential election plausibly be, for the first time, called free and fair.” Despite disagreement within the academy and within councils of government, the author maintains that democracy is necessary before a nation lays claim to freedom for its citizens. A durable democratic government must be broadly recognized as legitimate. Diamond has been disseminating such a message for decades, but he decided to write his latest book after Donald Trump became president—after suffering the “anguished knowledge of what his presidency would mean for democracy around the world.” As the author clearly shows, Trump is not just a threat to American democracy; he also plays an influential role in the retreat from freedom besetting numerous nations. Diamond is worried that the authoritarian governments of China and Russia are actively seeking to halt nascent democratic movements by encouraging other autocrats in nations such as Hungary, Turkey, and the Philippines. What to do with such complicated forces at work? The author suggests numerous potential promising paths, including a switch to a parliamentary form of government, specific measures to diminish the corruption pervasive in kleptocracies, and transparent elections that feature ranked-choice voting. Diamond is most comfortable with suggestions that would revive U.S. democracy before mounting sustained initiatives elsewhere.

A potent mix of theory and practice that runs from didactic to inspiring. A good addition to the growing library on fighting authoritarianism.

Pub Date: June 11, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-56062-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more