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THE RISE AND FALL OF NATIONS

FORCES OF CHANGE IN THE POST-CRISIS WORLD

Evenhanded, measured, sage advice on the global economy.

This efficient, positive guide for the practical observer and investor shows how to choose healthy emerging markets.

After the 2008 global financial crisis, impermanence is the watchword, writes Sharma (Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles, 2012), the head of emerging markets and global macro at Morgan Stanley Investment Management. Since no one seemed to have been able to predict the 2008 meltdown, and the most-hyped emerging nations of Brazil, Russia, India, and China (BRIC) have now fallen into being considered a “bloody ridiculous investment concept,” the author urges the use of skepticism, short-term planning (five or six years), and reliable data in trying to grasp forces of change. His “rules,” developed over “25 years on the road” with a team of researchers, encompass the factors of growth in some “fifty-six postwar emerging economies that managed to sustain a growth rate of 6 percent for at least a decade.” In each chapter, rather than moving country by country, Sharma tackles one of these factors. He looks at demographic data in order to get a sense of the makeup of the available workforce (falling birthrates are prompting countries to add incentives for having babies, such as in Singapore, France, and Chile, along with increasing the retirement age and attracting migrants), and he considers whether a new political leader will be able to enact reforms (e.g., Brazil’s Lula da Silva), investigates areas of income inequality (e.g., billionaires in India), and examines state spending and how to make the most of a country’s “geographic sweet spot” (e.g., Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam). Sharma discusses investment in factories, the measurement of food prices, and the importance of ignoring the “hype watch” and of keeping an eye on the locals to determine when a country is in crisis or recovery. The final chapter is a rather bold assertion of which countries might be considered “the good, the average, and the ugly.”

Evenhanded, measured, sage advice on the global economy.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-393-24889-0

Page Count: 440

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

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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. 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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