CHANGING FORTUNES

THE WORLD'S MONEY AND THE DECLINE OF AMERICAN SUPREMACY

Insightful appraisals of the global monetary order from a pair of technocrats who played key roles in shaping its past, present, and future. This study grew out of a series of seminars at Princeton conducted by Volcker (former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board) and Gyohten (until his recent retirement, a senior official in Japan's Ministry of Finance) during the spring of 1991. Here, they take turns surveying the postwar history of the world's monetary system, from the Bretton Woods era of stable currencies through the latter-day problems caused by floating exchange rates. Along their way, the authors assess the impact of so-called oil shocks, the Smithsonian accord (which put paid to the gold standard), the Latin American debt crisis, and other landmark events. Covered as well is the emergence of Japan and Germany and its EC partners as economic powers to be reckoned with, and the relative decline of a once- dominant US. Volcker and Gyohten both tend to address their common subject in ways that conform to, if not confirm, national stereotypes. Throughout, the American is blunt, albeit fundamentally optimistic about prospects for the US and the wider world. By contrast, Gyohten, while candid about the altered state of the ties that still bind Japan and the US, is circumspect, even conciliatory, stressing the historic success of a grand alliance while soft-pedaling the uncertainties that cloud its future. The odd couple agree on any number of points—that strong currencies afford a competitive edge on the home front as well as in international commerce; that regional trading blocs could lead to undesirable protectionism; that monetary and fiscal policies must be coordinated on a supranational basis, etc. Illuminating and accessible perspectives on a topic of vital interest to us all.

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-8129-2018-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1992

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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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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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