An earnest book with idealistic intent but its proposals lack the detail they need to be widely embraced.

Yield for Oncoming Greatness

CAPPING CAPITALISM

Tabrizi, in his debut nonfiction work, offers high-level proposals for how to improve the country.

Early on, the author, an Iranian immigrant, describes an experience he had after 9/11. When an annoyed flight attendant coldly told him that she could get him removed from the plane, he realized that she had the power to ruin his life: “This is a state of suspicion and paranoia rather than a state of democracy and freedom,” he thought. The book loses this personal tone, however, when the author begins to share his broad proposals to fix the nation’s ills. His first suggestion is a “Financial Transparency Service,” staffed by volunteers, which would produce a website with graphic reports of the profit and loss statements and balance sheets of every nonprofit and government contractor in the country. (Here, as elsewhere, he leaves unanswered questions, such as what would happen if the service couldn’t find enough qualified volunteers.) Next, he says, he would start a “Freedom Watch” group, staffed by peer-selected, unpaid experts, including CPAs, economists, scientists, and physicians. Freedom Watch subgroups would assign red, yellow, or green flags to various broad topics, such as global warming or stem cell research, to signal problems that need resolution. Any candidates for office, Tabrizi says, would have to state his or her opinion on every Freedom Watch issue, in the form of a “yes,” “no,” or “pass.” This is a big idea, yet the author covers it in less than three pages. Indeed, an overall lack of detail and an absence of practical descriptions of how ideas would work are the book’s main shortcomings. The author’s other ideas include limiting advertisements for certain items, including prescription drugs; requiring voter identification; insisting that all presidential candidates must be third-generation Americans; requiring Spanish as a second language; ending high school in 10th grade; and legalizing soft drugs and prostitution. Some of these notions do have widespread appeal, and Tabrizi helpfully points readers to organizations that are already doing advocacy work on such issues as popular-vote presidential election. However, he doesn’t anticipate or address skeptics’ concerns—including how his ideas might pass the U.S. Congress.

An earnest book with idealistic intent but its proposals lack the detail they need to be widely embraced.

Pub Date: May 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0996210003

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Thinking Hat Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2015

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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