An expert effectively debunks the false narrative of denialism and advocates communal resistance to fossil fuels.

THE NEW CLIMATE WAR

THE FIGHT TO TAKE BACK OUR PLANET

One of the world’s leading climate scientists embarks on a journey into the minds of climate change deniers to try to understand their motivations and strategies.

Outright climate change denial is no longer acceptable, writes Mann in this blunt, lucid work of climate politics. Lobbyists and publicists for the fossil-fuel industry used to be focused on refuting the scientific evidence—models too unreliable, data too short, natural variability too unknown—but the new climate war is a softer form of denialism that seeks to shift the responsibility for climate change from the corporations who are producing the greenhouse gases to individuals (following the lead of the gun and tobacco industries) in a devious form of deflective accountability. Yes, Mann writes, individuals must act responsibly when it comes to the environment, but the necessary big-picture change will require massive action on the policy level—e.g., the 1987 Montreal Protocol, which combatted ozone depletion, and the 1990 Clean Air Act. Consistently displaying his comprehensive command of climate science and the attendant politics, he clearly walks readers through the disingenuous arguments about carbon pricing; the mechanics of receiving governmental incentives for renewable energy; how the energy market lacks sufficient incentives to build a new infrastructure; solar and wind energy scare tactics in right-wing media; the pitfalls of “clean” coal and geoengineering; “doomism,” which “leads us down the same path of inaction as outright denial of the threat”; and carbon budgeting (“every bit of carbon we avoid burning prevents additional damage. There is both urgency and agency”). Mann is a cautious optimist—he even sees signs of accountability in some Republican lawmakers—and he hopes that the Covid-19 pandemic will teach us something about ideologically driven science denialism. The author recommends a “delicate middle ground”: Individual action includes pressuring “politicians to support climate-friendly governmental policies,” and collective action seeks to solve systemic problems.

An expert effectively debunks the false narrative of denialism and advocates communal resistance to fossil fuels.

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5417-5823-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

THE COMFORT BOOK

Bestselling author Haig offers a book’s worth of apothegms to serve as guides to issues ranging from disquietude to self-acceptance.

Like many collections of this sort—terse snippets of advice, from the everyday to the cosmic—some parts will hit home with surprising insight, some will feel like old hat, and others will come across as disposable or incomprehensible. Years ago, Haig experienced an extended period of suicidal depression, so he comes at many of these topics—pain, hope, self-worth, contentment—from a hard-won perspective. This makes some of the material worthy of a second look, even when it feels runic or contrary to experience. The author’s words are instigations, hopeful first steps toward illumination. Most chapters are only a few sentences long, the longest running for three pages. Much is left unsaid and left up to readers to dissect. On being lost, Haig recounts an episode with his father when they got turned around in a forest in France. His father said to him, “If we keep going in a straight line we’ll get out of here.” He was correct, a bit of wisdom Haig turned to during his depression when he focused on moving forward: “It is important to remember the bottom of the valley never has the clearest view. And that sometimes all you need to do in order to rise up again is to keep moving forward.” Many aphorisms sound right, if hardly groundbreaking—e.g., a quick route to happiness is making someone else happy; “No is a good word. It keeps you sane. In an age of overload, no is really yes. It is yes to having space you need to live”; “External events are neutral. They only gain positive or negative value the moment they enter our mind.” Haig’s fans may enjoy this one, but others should take a pass.

A handful of pearls amid a pile of empty oyster shells.

Pub Date: July 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-14-313666-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Penguin Life

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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