Next book

HUNGER

THE OLDEST PROBLEM

A broad-ranging, provocative examination of a problem that is likely only to grow.

An award-winning Spanish novelist and journalist chronicles his travels around the world revealing our collective inability to “provide millions of people with enough food to…live healthfully.”

“There is no plague as lethal, and at the same time as avoidable, as hunger.” So writes Caparrós (Professor-at-Large/Cornell Univ.; Valfierno: The Man Who Stole the Mona Lisa, 2008, etc.), asserting that as many as 800 million people experience life-threatening hunger every day. Sometimes this hunger is due to famine, which, he writes, can be justified, so to speak, by the fact that its cause is often war or an accident of weather; more often it can be traced to the whims of bureaucracy and “the banality of evil.” Whatever the cause, by his estimate, five children die every minute around the world from hunger. Caparrós describes his travels to Argentina, Niger, India, and the U.S. to examine food insecurity, famine, agricultural inefficiencies, climate change, and the like. The author concludes that hunger is a product not of biology but of economics. In a time of great inequality, the haves owe their fortunes to the fact that there are so many have-nots, and “the capitalist machine doesn’t know what to do with hundreds of millions of people” it considers to be “surplus.” The capitalist critique is well considered if sometimes diffuse. The author’s argument takes on greater force when he works with the data to make significant points, such as the fact that Argentina, which produces enough export crops such as soybeans and maize to feed 300 million people, still cannot manage to take care of its own precisely because its resources are flowing outward. “How is there not enough?” he asks, answering his own question by placing the Argentine example in the context of the globalized commodity system. In that context, even as Argentina has managed to replace its rural laborers with machines, “it hasn’t figured out what to do with those people." Thus, they starve.

A broad-ranging, provocative examination of a problem that is likely only to grow.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61219-804-0

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Melville House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Next book

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

Next book

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016


  • New York Times Bestseller


  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

Close Quickview