An analytically challenging but breathlessly partisan political tract.




A spirited and historically panoramic defense of the U.S. Social Security program. 

Social Security has been a lightning rod of contentious political debate since its enactment by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935; 80 years later, the vigor with which it’s debated has not diminished at all. Altman (co-author: Social Security Works!, 2015, etc.) essentially forwards three provocative claims: Social Security has been a marvelously effective and well-managed program; it’s grotesquely and often opportunistically misunderstood; and instead of being curtailed or eliminated, it should be expanded. The author’s argument aims to debunk the long-standing, and in her opinion either ignorant or disingenuous, arguments against the program. For example, it was never intended as either welfare or a retirement savings plan but as wage insurance. And it’s not bankrupt nor just a pile of unredeemed IOU’s or a drain on the federal budget. In fact, it is scrupulously managed, self-financing, and adds absolutely nothing to the deficit since it’s entirely separate from the federal government’s general fund. Altman’s approach is uniquely historical—she looks at the speeches and writings of those who originally designed the program, like Roosevelt, and those who subsequently defended it, like Eisenhower. She also discusses Social Security as a consummation of fundamental American ideals like individualism and self-sufficiency, situating her defense within an overarching political philosophy. Altman’s expertise is extraordinary. Her credentials are excellent (Altman was on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and taught courses on the subject of Social Security at Harvard Law School), and this is almost certainly the most wide-ranging documentary history of Social Security available. Also, she ably draws attention to issues often neglected in debates over the program’s viability; for example, she highlights the ways it has been one of the most potent legislative antidotes to poverty ever devised. Unfortunately, the tone of the study is consistently peremptory—any and all criticisms of Social Security are dismissed as “zombie lies,” “propaganda,” and “straw man arguments,” and she likes to claim her very complex arguments are “painfully simple.” 

An analytically challenging but breathlessly partisan political tract.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947492-12-7

Page Count: 402

Publisher: Strong Arm Press

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2018

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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With this detailed, versatile cookbook, readers can finally make Momofuku Milk Bar’s inventive, decadent desserts at home, or see what they’ve been missing.

In this successor to the Momofuku cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar’s pastry chef hands over the keys to the restaurant group’s snack-food–based treats, which have had people lining up outside the door of the Manhattan bakery since it opened. The James Beard Award–nominated Tosi spares no detail, providing origin stories for her popular cookies, pies and ice-cream flavors. The recipes are meticulously outlined, with added tips on how to experiment with their format. After “understanding how we laid out this cookbook…you will be one of us,” writes the author. Still, it’s a bit more sophisticated than the typical Betty Crocker fare. In addition to a healthy stock of pretzels, cornflakes and, of course, milk powder, some recipes require readers to have feuilletine and citric acid handy, to perfect the art of quenelling. Acolytes should invest in a scale, thanks to Tosi’s preference of grams (“freedom measurements,” as the friendlier cups and spoons are called, are provided, but heavily frowned upon)—though it’s hard to be too pretentious when one of your main ingredients is Fruity Pebbles. A refreshing, youthful cookbook that will have readers happily indulging in a rising pastry-chef star’s widely appealing treats.    


Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-72049-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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