Makary rightly takes the health care business to task, but he also offers a ray of hope that change can and will happen.

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THE PRICE WE PAY

WHAT BROKE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE--AND HOW TO FIX IT

Plain talk from a surgeon and professor who has long studied health care issues and finds the American system badly in need of repair.

Makary (Health Policy/Johns Hopkins Univ.; Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won't Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care, 2012, etc.) has plenty of harsh words for the health care industry. He clearly demonstrates how medical care is secretive and predatory and why skyrocketing costs can be accounted for by the money games of medicine, loaded with middlemen, kickbacks, hidden costs, and the bait-and-switch techniques of the so-called wellness industry. Traveling across the country and talking to patients, doctors, business leaders, and insurance brokers, the author concludes that overtesting, overdiagnosing, and overtreatment are all too common. Throughout the book, Makary refuses to hold back and does not hesitate to name names. However, despite all the wrongs that he describes—e.g., health fairs that serve as prospecting events to hospitals that grossly overcharge—the author is optimistic about the future of health care. He cites as positive examples an organization that negotiates with pharmacy benefit managers for better rates for employers; the national Choosing Wisely project, which promotes meaningful conversations between patients and clinicians; and the Johns Hopkins–based Improving Wisely, which enables physicians to see how their practice patterns and outcomes compare to those of others in their field. Makary, who has witnessed a groundswell of physicians working toward a fair and functional health care system, writes that hospitals and doctors can and should return to their historic altruistic mission of serving their communities and that medical schools must focus on compassion and humility. Some states have already passed price transparency legislation, and consumers, he writes, should ask for a price every time they consider a health service.

Makary rightly takes the health care business to task, but he also offers a ray of hope that change can and will happen.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-411-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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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

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