Sharp narratives that illuminate and challenge the status quo of women's roles in the world. Slim in scope, but yet another...

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MEN EXPLAIN THINGS TO ME

Acclaimed author and Harper’s contributing editor Solnit (The Faraway Nearby, 2013, etc.) expounds on the way women are perceived in American culture and around the world.

Despite years of feminism and such activist groups as Women Strike for Peace, much of the female population in the world is often powerless, forced to remain voiceless and subjugated to acts of extreme violence in the home, on school campuses and anywhere men deem they should dominate. "Rape and other acts of violence, up to and including murder, as well as threats of violence, constitute the barrage some men lay down as they attempt to control some women,” she writes, “and fear of that violence limits most women in ways they've gotten so used to they hardly notice—and we hardly address." The few women who do stand up and shout to the world are the exception, not the rule, and Solnit provides a platform and a voice for them and the thousands who are too overwhelmed by fear and guilt to speak up. Solnit's thought-provoking essays illuminate the discrepancies in modern society, a society in which female students are told to stay indoors after dark due to the fact that one man is a rapist, as opposed to an alternate world in which male students are told not to attack females in the first place. Same-sex marriage, Virginia Woolf, the patrilineal offspring of the Bible and los desaparecidos of Argentina are artfully woven into the author’s underlying message that women have come a long way on the road to equality but have further to go.

Sharp narratives that illuminate and challenge the status quo of women's roles in the world. Slim in scope, but yet another good book by Solnit.

Pub Date: May 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-60846-386-2

Page Count: 134

Publisher: Haymarket

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

FRONT ROW AT THE TRUMP SHOW

The chief White House and Washington correspondent for ABC provides a ringside seat to a disaster-ridden Oval Office.

It is Karl to whom we owe the current popularity of a learned Latin term. Questioning chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, he followed up a perhaps inadvertently honest response on the matter of Ukrainian intervention in the electoral campaign by saying, “What you just described is a quid pro quo.” Mulvaney’s reply: “Get over it.” Karl, who has been covering Trump for decades and knows which buttons to push and which to avoid, is not inclined to get over it: He rightly points out that a reporter today “faces a president who seems to have no appreciation or understanding of the First Amendment and the role of a free press in American democracy.” Yet even against a bellicose, untruthful leader, he adds, the press “is not the opposition party.” The author, who keeps his eye on the subject and not in the mirror, writes of Trump’s ability to stage situations, as when he once called Trump out, at an event, for misrepresenting poll results and Trump waited until the camera was off before exploding, “Fucking nasty guy!”—then finished up the interview as if nothing had happened. Trump and his inner circle are also, by Karl’s account, masters of timing, matching negative news such as the revelation that Russia had interfered in the 2016 election with distractions away from Trump—in this case, by pushing hard on the WikiLeaks emails from the Democratic campaign, news of which arrived at the same time. That isn’t to say that they manage people or the nation well; one of the more damning stories in a book full of them concerns former Homeland Security head Kirstjen Nielsen, cut off at the knees even while trying to do Trump’s bidding.

No one’s mind will be changed by Karl’s book, but it’s a valuable report from the scene of an ongoing train wreck.

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4562-2

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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