With luck, a vade mecum that will make one’s reaping a bit less grim.

READ REVIEW

LET'S TALK ABOUT DEATH (OVER DINNER)

AN INVITATION AND GUIDE TO LIFE'S MOST IMPORTANT CONVERSATION

A reader-friendly guide to the conversations most people avoid having.

Hebb, whose day job involves hosting conversations about pressing topics over a nice nosh, serves up what a cynic might view as a brand-extension exercise here: “It is time to face the inevitable,” he urges, “and we need a grassroots movement—we need to face our mortality as a village, not as isolated individuals.” Doing so over the dinner table is one possibility. The author offers some helpful cues for conversation starters. “If you had only thirty days left to live,” he poses, “how would you spend it?” Some of the sample answers he returns are provocative: One fellow parses the time as both global and private, using part of it to see as much of the world and as many people as possible, part of it to withdraw into the cocoon of nearest and dearest. “What foods do you remember a departed loved one cooking for you?” he asks, offering the experience of the great chef José Andrés, whose signature paella conjures memories of an aspiring chef who died, too young, of brain cancer. Says Andrés, lyrically, when serving the dish, “I think of how lucky the angels in heaven are to have a chef like him.” As if anticipating the recent passing of John McCain, Hebb elicits conversations on how to plan one’s own memorial, though revenge is not part of the proceedings. With notes on the grieving process, the experience of death, and other tough subjects, the author closes with a list of books for further reading and resources for those willing to take on the hard work of asking those questions of loved ones—in, as he counsels, “an opt-in conversation” that one hopes will flourish rather than frighten.

With luck, a vade mecum that will make one’s reaping a bit less grim.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7382-3529-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong

Review Posted Online: Sept. 16, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more