Another important addition to the literature on the most essential issue of our day.

ON FIRE

THE (BURNING) CASE FOR A GREEN NEW DEAL

An impassioned anthology of the author’s evidence-based pleas to alleviate climate change.

In her latest book, Intercept senior correspondent Klein (Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies/Rutgers Univ.; This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate, 2015, etc.) presents pieces, some of which have been updated, from 2010 to 2019. Whether revised or not, most still resonate; the masterful, newly composed, 53-page introduction alone is worth the cover price. What separates Klein from many other advocates for a Green New Deal is her balanced combination of idealism and politics-based realism. The idealism shines through as she discusses the need for systemic change across the globe. The realism becomes apparent as she explains the huge obstacles to progressive policies put in place by elected politicians, private-sector corporate leaders, and omnipresent lobbyists, most of whom rarely care about the overarching public interest and can spend money at will to further their agendas. Throughout her urgent essays, Klein lucidly expresses her incredulity that huge swaths of humanity fail to recognize the critical nature of our current climate crisis. She believes that mass destruction will occur during many readers’ lifetimes, with their children and grandchildren suffering even greater losses. Alterations in individual behaviors—if enough individuals willingly participate—can lead to short-term alleviation, but long-term systemic change must follow immediately. The author’s most compelling extended example is the account of how 15-year-old Greta Thunberg of Sweden has influenced countless people to join in her advocacy. “Listening to Thunberg speak about how our collective climate inaction had nearly stolen her will to live seemed to help others feel the fire of survival in their own bellies,” writes Klein. The author also explores historical instances of systemic change to determine if the New Deal proposed by Franklin Roosevelt serves as the most appropriate analogy for the currently circulating Green New Deal. Klein wisely ranges beyond the U.S. and her native Canada when presenting evidence and explaining obstacles.

Another important addition to the literature on the most essential issue of our day.

Pub Date: Sept. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-982129-91-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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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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