A useful study of how the once-powerful NeverTrumpers sank into insignificance.

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NEVER TRUMP

THE REVOLT OF THE CONSERVATIVE ELITES

Requiem for the GOP’s anti-Trump movement.

Traditionally, the Republican Party in the U.S. espoused such conservative ideas as low taxes, limited government, a reliance on civil society, and a morality-based foreign policy. Then Donald Trump joined the race for president. At first, the Republican elite considered him a bottom-feeding con man who would soon be laughed off the stage. Instead, his popularity grew, and the party’s stalwarts formed a NeverTrump movement (as it is referred to throughout the narrative) to combat his rise. As political science professors Saldin and Teles demonstrate, they openly did everything they could to stop him, but the people who vote Republican nominated him anyway, and the NeverTrump effort began to crumble. A trickle of NeverTrumpers switching sides to Trump soon became a flood, and their work had given Trump a long list of enemies, which essentially eliminated virtually all experienced officials from even being considered for any government post. That left Trump with no choice but to name inexperienced, incompetent people to high government positions, which he did. In this scholarly, occasionally wonkish, but always readable and deeply insightful book, the authors, both of whom have written extensively about American public policy and legal and economic matters, describe the story of NeverTrump’s demise by focusing on four specific groups: national security professionals, who are the experts involved with foreign policy; political operatives, such as pollsters and fundraisers, who provide services to the party and its candidates; professional public intellectuals, such as think tank members, columnists and authors; and lawyers and economists. After clearly laying out how Trump has proceeded to exploit his power over anyone who would challenge him, the authors conclude that someday, both extremes will have to share power with a liberal-conservative faction grounded in free trade, pluralism, and constitutionalism.

A useful study of how the once-powerful NeverTrumpers sank into insignificance.

Pub Date: May 11, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-19-088044-6

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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