More bilious pickings for Fox News junkies; all others should take a pass.



Political smut, slander, fiction, paranoia and conspiracy theories from the last four years are repackaged into this corrosive brew by Fox News contributor and former Nixon foreign policy assistant Crowley (Nixon in Winter: His Final Revelations about Diplomacy, Watergate and Life Out of the Arena, 1998, etc.).

Obama’s “unaccountable ‘czars’…could operate with impunity,” writes the author, "do all of [his] dirty work, and, at the end of a typical workday, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel would hand each of them a sweaty wad of untraceable bills.” Throughout the book, this kind of vitriol corrodes any basis for rational discussion. Those who might laugh probably won't check the author’s accounting of the stimulus program agreed upon by Congress and the executive branch in 2009, which included “$50 to convince Barbara Mikulski to jump off the ferryboat,” and “$500 billion to paint Bill Clinton's face on the side of the pleasure boat.” What might they think of those who get free Brazilian waxes and rides on Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Jet Ski thanks to the American taxpayer? As the book progresses, Crowley continues to blend hate- and anger-driven fiction in a strange never-never land of nonsense, in which no government social program, the author writes, “is about their superficial purpose.” As expected, in this “war for the nation’s future,” Crowley wants to “discard the impulse toward social and economic justice” through the gutting of entitlement programs. If we don’t act now, she writes, “we’ll all speak Arabic, spend Chinese currency, and get abortions at the 7-Eleven.” Most of the book is just a restatement of similar xenophobic, snarkily presented sentiment.

More bilious pickings for Fox News junkies; all others should take a pass.

Pub Date: June 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-213115-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2012

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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


“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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