The author uses bold strokes to sketch a contrarian view that lay readers will easily grasp, but economists are unlikely to...




An independent scholar critiques mainstream economics and proposes an original explanation for the rise of service-sector employment.

By “imaginary,” Fabbri (The Downfall of Nations, 2016, etc.) means “the growing part of the economic system that claims to be ‘productive’ and is not.” The “real” economy means tangible goods—agricultural and manufactured products. The text minimizes jargon and is free of mathematical formulas but contains a dozen simple graphic illustrations. The author opens with a chart showing U.S. per capita gross domestic product growing at an “incredibly stable rate of about 1.9% per year for 170 years.” Deriding economists’ “tradition of ignoring what they are unable to explain,” Fabbri devotes a third of his book to proposing psychological, sociological, and physical/time constraints that create a “speed cap for assimilating new forms of consumption.” As technology-driven productivity growth outpaces consumptive capacity and eliminates workers, society invents new, unproductive jobs for them in the imaginary economy. In the second section, the author discusses how this phenomenon operates at micro and macro levels and can stimulate or harm economic development. The final section explores how the imaginary economy produces inefficiencies and irrational thinking. Fabbri displays broad economic fluency, quoting diverse sources, including Thomas Malthus, Adam Smith, Friedrich Hayek, and Paul Samuelson. He identifies the Swiss historian Simonde de Sismondi as advocating moderate economic growth 120 years before John Maynard Keynes formulated his monetary theories. Curiously, the author never mentions Allan Fisher, Colin Clark, or Jean Fourastié, pioneers of three-sector theory—economic development’s progression from raw materials to manufacturing to services. Fabbri, a gifted storyteller, advances his arguments primarily through parables. The text, translated from the Italian by the author and Nixon, reads easily. Fabbri blends logic and humor to inform and entertain. Alas, his anecdotal approach and narrative brio can carry his new conception only so far. His disdain for mathematical economics (one essay is titled “On the futile use of mathematics in economic theories”) precludes testing or proving his concept, much less developing it for predictive purposes.

The author uses bold strokes to sketch a contrarian view that lay readers will easily grasp, but economists are unlikely to embrace his ideas without more quantitative evidence.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 165

Publisher: La fabbrica delle illusioni srls

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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