Sure to be controversial, as books about Middle Eastern policy tend to be, but a welcome, well-informed contribution.
A focused look at the obdurate problem of Palestinian-Israeli relations and the Americans on both sides of the issue.
Media studies scholar Hill and Middle East foreign policy specialist Plitnick open with an example of what might appear to be contradictory stances among American progressives: outrage at the Trump administration’s immigration policy yet apparent silence when, soon after Trump deployed soldiers to the southern border, that administration cut off funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which “provides emergency food, shelter, medication, supplies, and medication to millions of Palestinian refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza, and camps in neighboring countries.” There was hardly any policy discussion on the matter, and those few progressives who did raise objections went unheeded. The Obama administration, note the authors, was little more concerned with Palestinian human rights issues, and, they add, things are likely to get worse. Gaza in particular is projected to be uninhabitable soon, and those who live there do so under the baleful eye of the Israeli military and a government that, in 2018, declared that “only Jews can exercise national self-determination in Israel.” The authors argue that human rights should become the “primary predicate for U.S. policy in the region.” They also examine the efficacy of various means of Palestinian resistance, winning no diplomatic points for nonviolence, even as Israel continues to view the situation as a zero-sum game: “Peaceful coexistence, while not entirely ruled out, is seen as too risky a gamble.” In their clear and evenhanded analysis, the authors conclude that progressives must work to dismantle injustices, many of which are perpetuated by the U.S. government, and in turn, to hold the Israeli government “accountable for its actions in the region, and especially for its denial of basic rights to Palestinians.”Sure to be controversial, as books about Middle Eastern policy tend to be, but a welcome, well-informed contribution.
Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021
Page Count: 240
Publisher: The New Press
Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021
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by Walter Isaacson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 12, 2023
Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.
To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.
Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023
Page Count: 688
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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by Matthew Desmond ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 21, 2023
A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.
“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.
Pub Date: March 21, 2023
Page Count: 288
Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023
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