A caustically funny, outraged, and deadly serious analysis.

RUNNING AGAINST THE DEVIL

A PLOT TO SAVE AMERICA FROM TRUMP—AND DEMOCRATS FROM THEMSELVES

A wily Republican strategist rings in on the challenge facing Democrats in 2020.

Political campaign consultant Wilson (Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever, 2018), who airs his views in a variety of venues, intensifies his strident excoriation of Trump with a hard-hitting assessment of Democrats’ chances of winning the next presidential election—a victory that is crucial for saving the country. The author decries Trump as “a flawed, awful shitbird of the worst order” and a “political and moral monster” who will go down in history “for endemic corruption, outrageous stupidity, egregious cruelty, and inhumanity” and who has spread “moral and political contagion” and caused the collapse “of a once-great party.” Trump needs to go, but Wilson fears that Democrats will hand him reelection unless they focus on 15 states critical for an Electoral College win. “You’re not really running a national campaign,” he insists. “You’re running fifteen state campaigns.” After many chapters of “robust and richly deserved Trump-bashing,” the author turns to strategy, cautioning Democrats against focusing on policy. Instead, they need to attack Trump’s actions—e.g., a trade war that victimizes farmers, cruelty and brutality toward immigrant children, unrepentant racism—and personal failings to make their case to voters who can still be swayed: “the large and growing cohort of Republican women who broke away from the GOP, and the white, Democratic men who broke for Trump in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Florida.” These voters want a moderate; they are not youthful progressives, who, Wilson asserts, won’t win Democrats the states they need. The author suggests talking points about abortion, guns, immigration, tax cuts, judges, and socialism. He warns Democrats of the threat of a third party run and underscores the importance of “a real modern, data-driven campaign” and deployment of surrogates, such as the Obamas. He offers a state-by-state game plan, homing in on pertinent issues and recommending liberal spending on targeted ads. Democrats can win, Wilson maintains; but will they?

A caustically funny, outraged, and deadly serious analysis.

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13758-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown Forum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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

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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

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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

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