A delight for policy wonks and politicos, Rosenfeld’s insightful study of the development of political parties since World...

THE POLARIZERS

POSTWAR ARCHITECTS OF OUR PARTISAN ERA

An analysis of mid-20th-century American political movements and the rise of an ideology-based party system that paved the way for the current state of partisan dysfunction.

It is generally understood that American political discourse is more partisan than ever: left vs. right, blue vs. red, liberal vs. conservative, Democrat vs. Republican. Pundits often wistfully recall a bygone era when the divisiveness between parties was less caustic, political ideologies were harder to distinguish, and bipartisanship was routine business in Washington, D.C. However, the degradation of civility between parties was by no means an accident. As Rosenfeld (Political Science/Colgate Univ.) points out in his well-researched and fascinating study of our partisan era, the development of strict party lines along ideological beliefs was initially a product of the Democratic revolution led by President Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal. After World War II, political operatives began to flesh out the concept of “responsible party doctrine,” which first codified the idea of more noticeable boundaries between Democrats and Republicans in a 1950 study entitled “Toward a More Responsible Two-Party System.” Moving chronologically in sections divided by eras—e.g., 1945-1952, 1980-2000—the author expertly traces the development of this more parliamentary style of political organization through the postwar years and its defining moments, such as the Republican Goldwater insurgency of 1964 and the work of activist Michael Harrington to instill social consciousness into policymaking. In a scholarly but accessible text, Rosenfeld tackles the complex issues surrounding party identity, though, somewhat surprisingly, he pays little attention to contemporary politics. With an emphasis on “how we got here” rather “what do we do next,” the author’s analysis proves that the paralyzing political environment was created for a reason and can be changed.

A delight for policy wonks and politicos, Rosenfeld’s insightful study of the development of political parties since World War II is highly instructive for our current moment.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-226-40725-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

“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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