Timely reading in an era of looming trade wars and the decline of American economic supremacy.

THE TRANSPACIFIC EXPERIMENT

HOW CHINA AND CALIFORNIA COLLABORATE AND COMPETE FOR OUR FUTURE

The United States and China are rivals on many fronts—and in California, “the world’s two most powerful countries are meeting, cooperating, and competing.”

Journalist Sheehan, a Californian who logged more than five years working in China, turns in a suggestive portrait of a place in which Chinese money has been responsible for no small amount of economic activity: the San Francisco Shipyards, say, “the city’s largest housing and retail development in decades,” and Hollywood, where many of today’s blockbusters have Chinese backing. In exchange, California-based companies such as Apple and Google have provided a lucrative outlet for Chinese manufacture while introducing new technologies into the Chinese market. In all, writes the author, China has reversed the position it held a century ago, a poor country whose chief export was labor. It has done so in at least some respects by shaping an image of California to suit itself: “blue skies, top universities, innovative technology, and global blockbusters.” The transformation has left China less dependent on outside markets—where Chinese graduate students in American universities once remained here, by one measure, most now return home with their advanced learning and skills—but has not substantially diminished the relationship between what Sheehan characterizes as America’s most liberal state and a stubbornly totalitarian government. Politics enters the picture along several fronts. Sheehan notes, for one thing, that whereas for generations California’s Chinese-descended population has been reliably Democratic, new immigrants, scornful of their predecessors, are often volubly conservative. Chinese companies have made missteps in California, notably in Hollywood, and American firms have made missteps in China, as when eBay opened the door for the emergence of Jack Ma’s giant Alibaba firm and was forced to retreat from the Chinese market, “the first time a Chinese internet company had gone head-to-head with its American rival and won.” Though the relationship has lately been troubled, Sheehan foresees continued interactions and mutual influence in decades to come.

Timely reading in an era of looming trade wars and the decline of American economic supremacy.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64009-214-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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