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ROE

THE HISTORY OF A NATIONAL OBSESSION

As always, Ziegler is a clear explainer of a complex, gray-shaded body of law.

An accessible account of the legal issues surrounding Roe v. Wade and the many layers of controversy surrounding them.

The author of Dollars for Life: The Anti-Abortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment and other books about abortion and the law in America, Ziegler opens with the observation that Roe is the only Supreme Court–adjudicated law concerning abortion. For example, part of the decision was overruled in the 1992 Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey decision. Still, “Roe has become the repository for the contradictions of the American abortion war,” which extend well beyond abortion: Does a woman have the right to control her own body? Does life begin at conception? Does the federal government have the right to make laws that should be the purview of individual states? Ziegler digs deep to look at novel approaches to litigation, with some anti-abortion groups, for instance, using the 14th Amendment to equate the unborn with the enslaved, with “their humanity denied by others who perpetrated acts of unspeakable violence against them.” Other interpretations have centered on science, with both pro-choice and anti-abortion activists insisting that the scientific evidence is on their side. Interestingly, Ziegler writes, the religious liberty aspect of Roe came to the fore relatively recently, when “conservative Christian groups…framed legal abortion and LGBTIQ rights as forcing Christians to forsake their own beliefs.” Interestingly, too, Roe was from the outset criticized as poorly framed. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who would become the Supreme Court’s most vocal defender of abortion rights, often argued that Roe went too far too fast and undermined the pro-choice movement’s earlier progress,” writes Ziegler. Following Roe’s overturning by a Supreme Court that has been revealed as a partisan rather than impartial body, a newly “robust popular constitutionalism” may arise by which states guarantee the right of choice through citizen action.

As always, Ziegler is a clear explainer of a complex, gray-shaded body of law.

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 9780300266108

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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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

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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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

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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