Hard-hitting and timely given Russia’s continued sway in international politics as well as its documented influence over an...

A VERY EXPENSIVE POISON

THE ASSASSINATION OF ALEXANDER LITVINENKO AND PUTIN'S WAR WITH THE WEST

A chilling look at the Putin regime’s murderous suppression of its critics.

In 2017, observes Guardian foreign correspondent Harding (The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man, 2014, etc.), the Russian president will likely stand again for the office, and winning it—as he certainly will—will put him in the running to be the longest-serving ruler that nation has seen. Meanwhile, under his regime, Russia has “gone from a semi-democracy into something approaching a dictatorship.” No one has been more aware of that transformation than Russia’s journalists, one of whom, Alexander Litvinenko (1962-2006), had been assembling evidence of Putin’s links to Russian organized crime, combining to form a “mafia state.” Litvinenko was silenced by assassins who used polonium to poison him, the first such case in medical history. Litvinenko happened to be in London at the time, which means that the assassins had to enter a country with which Russia was not at war in order to conduct murder, making the case a matter of national security interest. However, Harding writes with mounting indignation, the British government steadily backed down in the face of Putin’s continued aggressions not just against his own citizens, but also in the Crimea. By the author’s account, British Prime Minister David Cameron effectively helped cover up what had by then become the well-known fact of official murder, determined not to harm trade interests. The British government, said one observer, was worried about Putin’s ire, while British intelligence agents were worried about meeting Litvinenko’s fate; Putin was “concerned about being called a mafia boss.” In this fast-paced book, Harding, who was expelled from the Kremlin while serving as the Guardian’s Moscow bureau chief, covers all the bases while exposing the weakness and accommodationism of the now-departed British leadership.

Hard-hitting and timely given Russia’s continued sway in international politics as well as its documented influence over an incoming American administration that is also hostile to the press.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-97399-8

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Vintage

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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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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