Despite the occasional good point, Nader’s current influence extends no farther than preaching to the choir.



The consumer gadfly and former third-party candidate continues to offer answers to the nation’s political problems.

Having published one book of letters he had written to presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama without receiving any response (Return to Sender, 2015), Nader returns with imaginary letters he would have written to those presidents during times of crisis, an imagined encounter between Obama and the ghost of Osama bin Laden, and various lists “to promote a people’s agenda.” The author recognizes that in the public eye, he has been branded with “the politically bigoted word ‘spoiler’" since his Green Party candidacy might have tipped the 2000 election of Bush over Al Gore, but he insists that Bernie Sanders played the same role and faced the same charges: “The unfortunate truth Bernie discovered was that anybody who challenges the positions of the corporatist, militaristic, Wall Street–funded Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton…is, by their twisted definition, a ‘spoiler.’" Not that there was all that much to spoil, in Nader’s analysis, though he never says that the Democrats would be as bad as “the self-destructive, unstable, unorganized, fact- and truth-starved, egomaniacal, bigoted, cheating, plutocratic Donald Trump.” However, he holds what he calls “the ObamaBush White House” responsible for the rise of Trump and chastises Obama for not targeting his predecessor as “a war criminal.” Nader draws from old clippings and some of his own writing at the time to make familiar complaints about Obama governing more toward the center after campaigning as more of a progressive and about the claims of progressivism by the hawkish and corporate-funded Hillary. He insists that the Electoral College, responsible for Trump’s victory, is “antiquated, atavistic,” and way overdue for reform, if not removal. For the most part, though, he seems to want to have a direct voice in this discussion rather than shouting from far away on the sidelines.

Despite the occasional good point, Nader’s current influence extends no farther than preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-60980-847-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Seven Stories

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“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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A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.


Known for her often contentious perspectives, New York Times opinion writer Weiss battles societal Jewish intolerance through lucid prose and a linear playbook of remedies.

While she was vividly aware of anti-Semitism throughout her life, the reality of the problem hit home when an active shooter stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue where her family regularly met for morning services and where she became a bat mitzvah years earlier. The massacre that ensued there further spurred her outrage and passionate activism. She writes that European Jews face a three-pronged threat in contemporary society, where physical, moral, and political fears of mounting violence are putting their general safety in jeopardy. She believes that Americans live in an era when “the lunatic fringe has gone mainstream” and Jews have been forced to become “a people apart.” With palpable frustration, she adroitly assesses the origins of anti-Semitism and how its prevalence is increasing through more discreet portals such as internet self-radicalization. Furthermore, the erosion of civility and tolerance and the demonization of minorities continue via the “casual racism” of political figures like Donald Trump. Following densely political discourses on Zionism and radical Islam, the author offers a list of bullet-point solutions focused on using behavioral and personal action items—individual accountability, active involvement, building community, loving neighbors, etc.—to help stem the tide of anti-Semitism. Weiss sounds a clarion call to Jewish readers who share her growing angst as well as non-Jewish Americans who wish to arm themselves with the knowledge and intellectual tools to combat marginalization and defuse and disavow trends of dehumanizing behavior. “Call it out,” she writes. “Especially when it’s hard.” At the core of the text is the author’s concern for the health and safety of American citizens, and she encourages anyone “who loves freedom and seeks to protect it” to join with her in vigorous activism.

A forceful, necessarily provocative call to action for the preservation and protection of American Jewish freedom.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-593-13605-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

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