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HOW TO KILL A CITY

GENTRIFICATION, INEQUALITY, AND THE FIGHT FOR THE NEIGHBORHOOD

A harsh critic of the forces changing urban life paints a vivid and grim picture of the future of American cities.

A freelance journalist reveals the many evils of gentrification.

Moskowitz, a former staff writer for Al Jazeera America, pulls no punches in his depiction of gentrification as “a void in a neighborhood, in a city, in a culture…a trauma, one caused by the influx of massive amounts of capital into a city and the consequent destruction following in its wake.” The author takes as his examples the cities of New Orleans, Detroit, San Francisco, and New York, places where he sees gentrification not as a product of cultural and consumer choices but as the result of specific policies by politicians, urban planners, real estate firms, and heads of corporations. These policies are often unfavorable to the poor, benefitting the accumulation of capital by the rich. In New Orleans, writes Moskowitz, Hurricane Katrina gave politicians the opportunity to re-create it as a whiter, richer city, as did the near-bankruptcy of New York City and the bankruptcy of Detroit—at least in its downtown and midtown areas. In San Francisco, the author describes the rapidly rising rents that are forcing working-class people out as the mayor courts technology firms to come in. Moskowitz chronicles his visits to each city, telling the stories of individuals affected by gentrification and in some cases fighting against it. New York is a special case, for there, his home city, the author sees himself as both a gentrifier in his changing Brooklyn neighborhood and as a victim of the earlier gentrification of the West Village, where he grew up. In the final chapter, Moskowitz draws on the work of academics and activists to present a list of six tactics for resisting gentrification, but ultimately, he asserts, there will be no solution without much greater economic and racial equality.

A harsh critic of the forces changing urban life paints a vivid and grim picture of the future of American cities.

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-56858-523-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

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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. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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