Though the book is not for readers unfamiliar with the historical terrain, Vinen provides a well-written, deeply considered...




A compelling history of 1968 and beyond.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of that epochal year, and numerous books, magazine features, newspaper tributes, and conferences and symposia continue to commemorate it. One of the better of these treatments is this one by Wolfson Prize winner Vinen (History/King’s Coll. London; National Service: Conscription in Britain 1945-1963, 2014, etc.), a fine book on the various strands of protest and opposition that emerged in what he calls the “Long 1968,” which effectively involves the longer-term trends of the 1960s and 1970s, with 1968 as both the apex and the fulcrum. The author does not focus on just one location; this is not about 1968 in the United States or France. Nor does he purport to tell the story of a “global 1968,” one of the more popular recent approaches of historians and scholars. Instead, Vinen splits the difference, looking comparatively at the Long 1968 in the U.S., the U.K., France, and West Germany, with brief detours elsewhere, emphasizing transnational trends as well as the particularities of how protest movements emerged and the barriers they faced. The author devotes chapters to specific overarching themes: how 1968 manifested in universities and challenged prevailing sexual and family norms, the role of and impact on workers and labor movements, and how violence by actors on all sides of the myriad conflicts affected society. Vinen is a sharp scholar, and his geographical and thematic approaches are useful for those with some sense of the larger stories of 1968. His work is not, however, suitable as an introduction to the many events and trends of the year. This is less a criticism than a simple reminder that scholars build on other work and that not all works of history, however good, provide suitable introductions to complex phenomena.

Though the book is not for readers unfamiliar with the historical terrain, Vinen provides a well-written, deeply considered work on a year that seems increasingly immediate in both its impact and implications.

Pub Date: July 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-245874-2

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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