Boldly grandiose, turgid, and remarkably unenlightening.



Florida’s governor describes how he turned his state into a “citadel of freedom in a world gone mad.”

While DeSantis offers few glimpses into his inner life, it’s clear that he has a healthy sense of self-regard. As he recounts his past, he depicts himself moving from success to success: Little League stardom, captain of Yale’s baseball team, Harvard Law School, officer corps in the Navy, Congress, and chief executive of the Sunshine State. The author presents himself as someone who governs through sheer force of will, never admitting to a single moment of doubt or weakness. At the same time, his ambition compels him to qualify some of his achievements. He characterizes his Ivy League education as something that happened to him, not something he chose, and he takes pains to portray himself as a perpetual political outsider even after winning three terms in Congress. “I may have been serving in Washington, but I would never become of Washington,” he writes. Burnishing his populist bona fides also means asserting that, while he was born and raised in Florida, his upbringing was shaped by the “working-class” values of family in Pennsylvania and Ohio. Most of the gubernatorial “accomplishments” DeSantis boasts about will be familiar to anyone who has been paying attention since 2019. He touts his opposition to “open borders,” increased penalties for “mob violence” in the wake of legitimate protests, and efforts to protect students from critical race theory and children from transgender Disney characters. He devotes entire chapters to his refusal to bow to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the White House Coronavirus Task Force during the Covid-19 pandemic, his attacks on “woke corporatism,” and his disdain for “legacy media.” Anyone hoping for DeSantis to dunk on Donald Trump is going to be disappointed. Except for a few subtle swipes, the governor cannily refers to the ex-president only when establishing himself as the new face of “America First.”

Boldly grandiose, turgid, and remarkably unenlightening.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9780063276000

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.


Everyone’s favorite avuncular socialist sends up a rousing call to remake the American way of doing business.

“In the twenty-first century we can end the vicious dog-eat-dog economy in which the vast majority struggle to survive,” writes Sanders, “while a handful of billionaires have more wealth than they could spend in a thousand lifetimes.” With that statement, the author updates an argument as old as Marx and Proudhon. In a nice play on words, he condemns “the uber-capitalist system under which we live,” showing how it benefits only the slimmest slice of the few while imposing undue burdens on everyone else. Along the way, Sanders notes that resentment over this inequality was powerful fuel for the disastrous Trump administration, since the Democratic Party thoughtlessly largely abandoned underprivileged voters in favor of “wealthy campaign contributors and the ‘beautiful people.’ ” The author looks squarely at Jeff Bezos, whose company “paid nothing in federal income taxes in 2017 and 2018.” Indeed, writes Sanders, “Bezos is the embodiment of the extreme corporate greed that shapes our times.” Aside from a few passages putting a face to avarice, Sanders lays forth a well-reasoned platform of programs to retool the American economy for greater equity, including investment in education and taking seriously a progressive (in all senses) corporate and personal taxation system to make the rich pay their fair share. In the end, he urges, “We must stop being afraid to call out capitalism and demand fundamental change to a corrupt and rigged system.” One wonders if this firebrand of a manifesto is the opening gambit in still another Sanders run for the presidency. If it is, well, the plutocrats might want to take cover for the duration.

Even if they're pie-in-the-sky exercises, Sanders’ pitched arguments bear consideration by nonbillionaires.

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593238714

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2023

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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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