In her brisk analysis, Cohen feels optimistic that the next election will cross “a historic threshold.”




Is America ready to elect Hillary Clinton?

Although women have led 50 other nations, the United States has yet to elevate a woman to the presidency. Journalist and historian Cohen (Delirium: The Politics of Sex in America, 2012, etc.), a member of the Los Angeles County Commission for Women, asks why—with surprising results. Based on interviews—quoted at length—with such women as Sen. Barbara Mikulski, EMILY’s List president Stephanie Schriock, and Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards (daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards) and analysis of considerable scholarship, Cohen debunks some popular assumptions. She finds, for example, no evidence of “direct gender stereotyping” by the media. “Men and women,” she writes, “both attract comments about their clothes, their looks, their experience, and their behavior….Most importantly, no study has ever directly linked sexist media treatment to voter attitudes.” Are voters, “on some very deep level,” sexist? Again, studies show otherwise: “partisan stereotypes rather than gender stereotypes shaped voters’ views of candidates.” Although the author argues that Americans don’t consider “trustworthiness a distinctly feminine trait or intelligence a distinctly masculine one,” she believes that women are more compassionate and collaborative than men and that their leadership is vastly important. While not fully persuasive that myths about a double standard “are just that—myths,” Cohen does identify other problems: women assume they will be judged more harshly than men and so are reluctant to run for office. In addition, they face “structural impediments” such as a bar to new candidates and a high rate of re-election of incumbents. Rather than gender, Cohen claims, voters apply standards that are “partisan, contradictory, arbitrary, superficial, and…tangential to the job requirements.” But that dispiriting conclusion may work well for women: “American voters subject the men and women who want to be president to the same absurd measures.”

In her brisk analysis, Cohen feels optimistic that the next election will cross “a historic threshold.”

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-61902-611-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Counterpoint

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2015

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.


“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


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?