NO CONTEST

HOW THE POWER LAWYERS ARE PERVERTING JUSTICE IN AMERICA

A blistering attack on the tactics used by powerful lawyers to defend major corporations. Lawyers have a responsibility to defend their clients zealously, concede consumer activist Nader and attorney Smith in their third collaborative effort (Collision Course: The Truth About Airline Safety, 1993, etc.). But, they contend, the "power lawyers" who work for the nation's largest law firms and who defend its biggest corporations use the "mantra" of zealous representation to justify a host of misdeeds, from trampling individual rights to overlooking or even covering up corporate evil. The perversion of justice they describe in the title comes from an imbalance: Power lawyers can marshal the vast resources of huge law firms to overwhelm their opponents (usually individual plaintiffs represented by lawyers from small firms) and make themselves vastly wealthy in the process. It is not just individual claimants who lose out, the authors claim, but vast numbers of ordinary citizens who are injured or killed when corporations choose legal stonewalling over correcting product defects. Nader and Smith illustrate their arguments with dozens of cases, such as General Motors' decision to fight each lawsuit brought against exploding gas tanks in certain of its pick-up trucks rather than correct the problem. Other cases demonstrate the stonewalling tactics used by power lawyers, including delaying trials for years, destroying vital documents, bringing frivolous harassment suits against individuals, and making confidentiality a condition of out-of-court settlements, meaning that the next plaintiff with the identical grievance must start from scratch. The authors are critical of tort reform legislation pending in Congress, which they claim would offer "a perpetual bailout for polluters, swindlers, reckless health care providers and makers of tobacco, defective vehicles, dangerous drugs, and many other hazardous consumer products." A brilliantly constructed attack on corporate legal defenders that ends with a rousing call to lawyers to remember ethics and idealism, but likely to enrage more lawyers than it inspires.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-42972-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1996

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2016

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

more