Engrossing study of top-level creativity-by-committee.



Tofel (Vanishing Point, 2004, etc.) concludes that JFK aide and speechwriter Theodore C. Sorenson was the principal author of the 1961 inaugural address.

Even though Sorenson publicly refuses the attribution, he did grant Tofel, former assistant publisher of the Wall Street Journal, extensive interviews regarding the speech. The author directly contradicts the conclusion of JFK researcher Thurston Clarke (Ask Not, 2004), who lately gave principal authorship credit to the president. “Of the 51 sentences in the inaugural address, John Kennedy might be said to have been the principal original author of no more than 14,” Tofel asserts, and that’s giving the President credit for every sentence of “unclear” origin. He adds that with,changes made during a transcription of dictation taken by Kennedy's secretary plus his ad libs in delivery, “only nine sentences were principally originally Kennedy's. This compares with eight sentences from Adlai Stevenson.” A handful of other Kennedy associates and backers, the author notes, donated “language” reflected in the final read—not to mention multiple, readily traceable references from two of JFK’s personal icons, Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill. Tofel’s probe is resplendent with minutiae. (He relates, for instance, how at one point during the speech, Jackie Kennedy dented her pillbox hat while trying to keep it from blowing away. Within weeks, designers were offering pillbox hats pre-dented.) Above and beyond the controversy that is the center of the book, Tofel offers a worthy examination of inaugural addresses in general and a look at how the Kennedy mystique captured the nation’s attention.

Engrossing study of top-level creativity-by-committee.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2005

ISBN: 1-56663-610-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Ivan Dee/Rowman & Littlefield

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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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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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