A valuable view of the explosive movement that gave voice to outrage over our new gilded age.

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THE OCCUPIERS

THE MAKING OF THE 99 PERCENT MOVEMENT

Sociology doctoral student Gould-Wartofsky debuts with an inside look at the “new, new Left” that emerged when fewer than 2,000 people seized New York City’s Zuccotti Park, near Wall Street, in 2011, sparking similar protest rallies against the wealthiest “1 Percent” in some 1,500 towns and cities.

Chanting “We! Are! The 99 Percent!” the occupiers numbered many thousands, including millennials hit hard by the 2007-2009 recession, who opposed “the politics of austerity, restricted democracy, and the power of corporate America.” Veteran activist Gould-Wartofsky was both a participant and observer at the monthslong New York action, interviewing some 80 protesters there and in cities from Atlanta to Madrid and examining the inner workings of the complex intergenerational mélange—an “awesome petri dish of political engagement,” one participant called it. The author’s sympathetic account traces the origins of the occupy tactic to events elsewhere, from the Zapatista land occupation in Chiapas, Mexico, to uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Athens, and describes the critical roles played by online social media and the “People’s Microphone” (where people in a crowd repeat a speaker’s works, eliminating the need for amplifiers) and by alliances with labor unions and nonprofits. Working groups provided food, shelter and safety to the Zuccotti Park encampment. Many rifts occurred, notably between upper-echelon occupiers and the “lower 99 Percent” (the homeless and drug users). Gould-Wartofsky captures the chaotic, carnivallike atmosphere that reined as chanting crowds marched twice daily on Wall Street, stormed the Brooklyn Bridge and, on Oct. 15, a day of global action in 951 cities, made their way to Times Square. The author argues the movement’s ideas and practices have lived on after the eviction from Zuccotti Park: “The 99 Percent identity—and the sense of solidarity it lent an otherwise divided Left—[was] the movement’s most enduring contribution to the political culture.”

A valuable view of the explosive movement that gave voice to outrage over our new gilded age.

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-19-931391-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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