Scholars will appreciate the thoroughness and lucidity. General readers may want to skim certain sections.

DOUBLE CROSSED

THE MISSIONARIES WHO SPIED FOR THE UNITED STATES DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR

The little-known history of the “sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, and sometimes profound ways that the founders of the United States’ pioneering foreign intelligence service tried to use humans’ deep spirituality as a tool for war.”

The subjects of this military history were missionaries during World War II, sent by their houses of worship to spread the word of God throughout the world. But they also were American spies, charged by their handlers with all sorts of clandestine work that even included assassination plots. Though there were dozens of them, including Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, Sutton (History/Washington State Univ.; American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, 2014, etc.) focuses on four of them—William Eddy, John Birch, Stephen Penrose, and Stewart Herman Jr.—who served in a variety of arenas, from major embassies to the front lines. (One even led an air raid that killed scores of Japanese fighters.) Most of the missionaries agreed to their missions because they thought of America as the classic city on the hill. Sutton’s research is impressive, his writing is clear, and his account is exhaustive—but also occasionally exhausting. It seems the author couldn’t bear to leave any of his research in his notes; as a result, the primary narrative often gets buried beneath an avalanche of detail. Still, Sutton rescues a crucially important story that raises profound questions regarding the relationship between God and country. Even the missionaries, whose work helped win the war and led to the founding of the CIA, ended their careers wondering whether they had served God or mammon (as the author notes, they "sometimes served their god and the gods of war at the same time”)—and whether they could ever be trusted again by anyone, even themselves.

Scholars will appreciate the thoroughness and lucidity. General readers may want to skim certain sections.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-465-05266-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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