From horror to fatigue to indifference, an important look forward and back that provides a grass-roots sense that one state...

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A LAND WITHOUT BORDERS

MY JOURNEY AROUND EAST JERUSALEM AND THE WEST BANK

An honest and troubling snapshot of Israel—both Palestinian and Israeli—that reveals the creeping realization that a two-state solution may no longer be possible.

A leftist Israeli journalist and novelist, Baram (Good People, 2016, etc.), who grew up in the 1980s, confronted his own long-held biases by spending an extended length of time penetrating the Green Line (the 1949 demarcation of Israel’s borders) and visiting the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In a series of hard-hitting chapters, he recounts his journeys—to Palestinian refugee camps, Israeli settlements, kibbutzim, and border crossings like Kalandia—underscoring the enormous fatigue that has settled around the Israeli occupation and the essential desire for the Palestinians to enjoy equal rights and move freely within the country. The sad, stunning truth is that most Palestinians and Israelis have no contact with each other. In one telling moment, Baram, while speaking English with a group of Palestinians on a street in Ramallah, attracted the attention of a boy who stared in disbelief, having never met a Jew before. The author worked his way around the West Bank, asking pointed questions that neither side was comfortable answering—e.g., how will the Israelis deal with the Palestinians’ demand for a right to return to the places their forebears were banished from in 1948, even though these same Palestinians have never visited those places or ever called them home? Also, how can the Palestinians believe in peace with the Israelis after “all the killings, the land grabs, the imprisonments, the checkpoints”? To get a better sense of what the future may hold, Baram spoke with prickly settlers (“as far as they are concerned, the battle has already been won”), former prisoners of the Israelis now aiming to fulfill their lives, and tense worshipers (of both faiths) at the Al-Aqsa Temple Mount.

From horror to fatigue to indifference, an important look forward and back that provides a grass-roots sense that one state needs to satisfy sovereignty for all.

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-925355-22-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Text

Review Posted Online: Feb. 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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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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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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