An astute discussion of a significant but often neglected component of British history.

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THE WIRING DIAGRAM

THE ONE-PAGE BEACON FOR BRITAIN BY SIR JOHN HOSKYNS, THATCHER’S TOP POLICY ADVISOR

A historical account of a diagram that helped to provide the intellectual foundation for Margaret Thatcher’s political revolution.

When Thatcher was elected the leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party in 1976, the country was mired in economic malaise and political disillusionment. That same year, Sir John Hoskyns, a successful businessman with no previous political experience, mapped out what he thought were the principal causes of the nation’s economic dysfunction—a graphic display that came to be known as the “wiring diagram.” The following year, he converted this into an electoral and political strategy titled the “Stepping Stones” report, which became the philosophical fulcrum of Thatcher’s successful election campaign in 1979 as well as a blueprint for her subsequent approach to governance. At the heart of the plan was an opposition to entrenched union power, protected by the Labour Party, which demanded low unemployment and high wages via government programs. This squeezed a government already pinched by declining productivity in the private sector, causing accumulating debt and higher taxes—strategies that, in Hoskyns’ view, only compounded the original problem. Clouse (Six Nine, Two Ten, 2016, etc.) begins by sketching out the historical context for Hoskyns’ contribution to Thatcher’s success, including an account of the domestic political scene as well as the theoretical fight between free-market economists and the dominant Keynesians of the time. Clouse’s exposition is impressively meticulous and lucid throughout this book, rendering Hoskyns’ complex vision accessible to patient readers. He takes them on a tour of the wiring diagram in its entirety, clearly explaining each of the cells that represent economic causes and effects of underperformance. Further, he carefully limns the differences between the wiring diagram and the political report it birthed as well as the real differences between Thatcher’s and Hoskyns’ views. Finally, he displays a firm grasp of the historical import of Hoskyns’ sketch: “It presented basic truths that were turned into policies, and those policies improved the lives of millions of ordinary people.”

An astute discussion of a significant but often neglected component of British history. 

Pub Date: Dec. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5410-6857-5

Page Count: 210

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

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

NIGHT

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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Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

THE LIBRARY BOOK

An engaging, casual history of librarians and libraries and a famous one that burned down.

In her latest, New Yorker staff writer Orlean (Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, 2011, etc.) seeks to “tell about a place I love that doesn’t belong to me but feels like it is mine.” It’s the story of the Los Angeles Public Library, poet Charles Bukowski’s “wondrous place,” and what happened to it on April 29, 1986: It burned down. The fire raged “for more than seven hours and reached temperatures of 2000 degrees…more than one million books were burned or damaged.” Though nobody was killed, 22 people were injured, and it took more than 3 million gallons of water to put it out. One of the firefighters on the scene said, “We thought we were looking at the bowels of hell….It was surreal.” Besides telling the story of the historic library and its destruction, the author recounts the intense arson investigation and provides an in-depth biography of the troubled young man who was arrested for starting it, actor Harry Peak. Orlean reminds us that library fires have been around since the Library of Alexandria; during World War II, “the Nazis alone destroyed an estimated hundred million books.” She continues, “destroying a culture’s books is sentencing it to something worse than death: It is sentencing it to seem as if it never happened.” The author also examines the library’s important role in the city since 1872 and the construction of the historic Goodhue Building in 1926. Orlean visited the current library and talked to many of the librarians, learning about their jobs and responsibilities, how libraries were a “solace in the Depression,” and the ongoing problems librarians face dealing with the homeless. The author speculates about Peak’s guilt but remains “confounded.” Maybe it was just an accident after all.

Bibliophiles will love this fact-filled, bookish journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4018-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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