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THE PRINCE

ANDREW CUOMO, CORONAVIRUS, AND THE FALL OF NEW YORK

A damning political polemic of a controversial administration mired in failed leadership.

The heights and depths of a tumultuous governorship.

In this corrective to Cuomo’s cherry-picked account of his (mis)management, American Crisis, veteran journalist Barkan, who has covered Cuomo as a journalist at City Hall for eight years, urgently chronicles the governor’s crushing fall from grace amid the relentlessly grim backdrop of the virus. In lucid, declarative prose, the author cites numerous incidents that have contributed to the deterioration of Cuomo’s administration, beginning with a State Attorney General’s report in early 2021 demonstrating that “his Department of Health had severely undercounted nursing home deaths.” This contradicted previous declarations that New York was at forefront of Covid-19 containment. Then came allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct from six women, including several former aides. Barkan dissects the Covid fiasco in a clear timeline showing the spread of the virus across America on the heels of the Trump impeachment proceedings. The author acknowledges that though the governor would never be as beloved as his father, Mario, he garnered widespread admiration for his initial “management” of the growing pandemic. Dubbing his subject a “deft tactician,” Barkan recounts Cuomo’s early disbelief in the lethality of the virus, before he enforced strict quarantine measures as infections skyrocketed. His attempts at damage control—e.g., touting minimal infection rates and low elderly mortality counts during press briefings—backfired, however, as a federal probe discovered startling statistics that contradicted Cuomo’s proclamations. In conclusion, the author digs further back into the administration to reveal missteps he believes directly contributed to the catastrophe, including deep cuts in health care spending, tax hikes, and the closings of “hospitals that could have treated patients in the outer reaches of New York City as the coronavirus first struck.” Based on original reporting and expansive interviews, this slim, scathing book convincingly debunks Cuomo’s “false narrative of triumph” and, in exacting detail, reveals the corrupt side of present-day New York government.

A damning political polemic of a controversial administration mired in failed leadership.

Pub Date: June 22, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-68219-410-2

Page Count: 200

Publisher: OR Books

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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ELON MUSK

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

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A warts-and-all portrait of the famed techno-entrepreneur—and the warts are nearly beyond counting.

To call Elon Musk (b. 1971) “mercurial” is to undervalue the term; to call him a genius is incorrect. Instead, Musk has a gift for leveraging the genius of others in order to make things work. When they don’t, writes eminent biographer Isaacson, it’s because the notoriously headstrong Musk is so sure of himself that he charges ahead against the advice of others: “He does not like to share power.” In this sharp-edged biography, the author likens Musk to an earlier biographical subject, Steve Jobs. Given Musk’s recent political turn, born of the me-first libertarianism of the very rich, however, Henry Ford also comes to mind. What emerges clearly is that Musk, who may or may not have Asperger’s syndrome (“Empathy did not come naturally”), has nurtured several obsessions for years, apart from a passion for the letter X as both a brand and personal name. He firmly believes that “all requirements should be treated as recommendations”; that it is his destiny to make humankind a multi-planetary civilization through innovations in space travel; that government is generally an impediment and that “the thought police are gaining power”; and that “a maniacal sense of urgency” should guide his businesses. That need for speed has led to undeniable successes in beating schedules and competitors, but it has also wrought disaster: One of the most telling anecdotes in the book concerns Musk’s “demon mode” order to relocate thousands of Twitter servers from Sacramento to Portland at breakneck speed, which trashed big parts of the system for months. To judge by Isaacson’s account, that may have been by design, for Musk’s idea of creative destruction seems to mean mostly chaos.

Alternately admiring and critical, unvarnished, and a closely detailed account of a troubled innovator.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2023

ISBN: 9781982181284

Page Count: 688

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023

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