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CLIMATE OF HOPE

HOW CITIES, BUSINESSES, AND CITIZENS CAN SAVE THE PLANET

Whether this is an exercise in thinking globally and acting locally or vice versa, a thoughtful, eminently reasonable set of...

Just in time for Earth Day, yes, a hopeful book of strategies for delivering the planet from our worst environmental depredations.

“Cities and nations thrive when leaders anticipate the future—and dream big,” writes former New York mayor and media magnate Bloomberg, who partners with former Sierra Club chairman Pope in alternating chapters. In a time when national leadership seems bent on denying the facts of climate change and failing to plan for the likely consequences of it, the authors propose that smaller-scale efforts are more likely to produce the desired results, efforts that “empower cities, regions, businesses, and citizens to accelerate the progress they are already making on their own.” For instance, Pope—who seems, on the whole, wonkier than Bloomberg—looks at ways in which electrical utilities can lead the way in shifting to renewable sources of power as opposed to being forced into it, one measurable result of which has been bad blood in coal country as a result of the Obama administration’s headlong plunge into cleaning up the coal industry without making necessary provisions for the workers who would be left jobless. Which isn’t to say that Bloomberg isn’t without his techno-nerdy side: he writes assuredly of the many ways in which cities such as New York have re-envisioned the role of the automobile, though with a political slogan or two tucked inside his prose for good measure: “more city leaders are recognizing that when the interests of cars and people diverge, people should come first.” Elsewhere, Bloomberg looks into the role of buildings in climate change—they are, as he notes, responsible for some 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions—while Pope notes that the future of climate change is not yet written, though sticking to a reasonable and salutary regime of energy consumption will “take decades to be felt.”

Whether this is an exercise in thinking globally and acting locally or vice versa, a thoughtful, eminently reasonable set of proposals for saving New York—and therefore the world.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-14207-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2017

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

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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. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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