An informative, often-heartbreaking portrait of a once-great American metropolis gone to hell.

READ REVIEW

DETROIT CITY IS THE PLACE TO BE

THE AFTERLIFE OF AN AMERICAN METROPOLIS

Rolling Stone contributing editor Binelli (Sacco and Vanzetti Must Die!, 2006) provides an engrossing chronicle of the decline (and possible rebirth?) of a major American city.

The author grew up just outside of Detroit, and while he appreciated much of his native city's cultural history, most notably the music, he realized at an early age that the city had many inherent problems—e.g., a crumbling infrastructure, a lousy economy and a justifiably horrible reputation throughout the country. Regardless, Detroit was Binelli’s hometown, and no matter where he lived throughout his adult life, he always kept tabs on the city's fortunes, most of which proved to be negative. Given his history, Binelli is the ideal writer for the task of examining the downfall of a city that has the potential to come back to life. “It’s undeniable that Detroit feels like a singular place,” writes the author, “and at the same time, just as Greenland might be called ground zero of the broader climate crisis, Detroit feels like ground zero for…what, exactly? The end of the American way of life? Or the beginning of something else?” Binelli describes the city through a series of essays, some personal, some about the people of Detroit and some about the history. The common thread is that the author believes there is a decent place beneath the surface, but the surface is so brutal that it takes a lot of digging to find it. Binelli is a charming writer, and his periodic humorous asides and innate good nature are a welcome contrast to the darker sections. Some may say that the book is problematic since it reads as a series of magazine articles, but many readers will find this a plus, as they can absorb the book in bite-sized chunks that can make reading about Detroit's urban blight more palatable.

An informative, often-heartbreaking portrait of a once-great American metropolis gone to hell.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9229-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more