Lemann relies on his well-developed skills as a longtime journalist to weave the specific and the abstract into a narrative...

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TRANSACTION MAN

THE RISE OF THE DEAL AND THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

A fresh account of the magnitude of inequality in America and how it came to be.

New Yorker staff writer Lemann (Emeritus, Dean/Columbia Journalism School; Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, 2006, etc.) turns to complex theory to explain why income inequality has deepened in conjunction with the fracturing of social bonds between and among the ultrawealthy, middle-class residents, and those struggling with poverty. The author posits that three phases, dating back about 100 years, explain much of the upheaval: the era of powerful institutions, including government, political parties, massive corporations, massive labor unions, and affinity groups based on ethnicity; the era of transactions that often bypassed those institutions, mostly through Silicon Valley and Wall Street; and now, the era of internet-enabled entities such as Google, Apple, and Facebook. Lemann chooses one individual to explicate each phase: New Deal economist Adolf Berle as “Institution Man,” Harvard Business School professor Michael Jensen as “Transaction Man,” and LinkedIn co-creator Reid Hoffman as “Network Man.” Though the author’s high-level theorizing is confusing at times, he wisely offers general readers a solid foundation by discussing the impact of each era on citizens in specific neighborhoods, especially a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago called Chicago Lawn. In that setting, he provides sharp portraits of a white male automobile dealer, an African American woman who migrated from the Deep South to fend off virulent racism in the neighborhood, and other residents struggling to make sense of the increasing economic inequality plaguing much of the country. The desires of Berle, Jensen, and Hoffman to create an orderly, prosperous society allowed a small slice of the citizenry to thrive beyond their wildest dreams but left the vast majority to struggle consistently with poverty.

Lemann relies on his well-developed skills as a longtime journalist to weave the specific and the abstract into a narrative that is intellectually challenging.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-374-27788-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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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

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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