by Sebastian Rotella ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 1, 1998
Rotella, the Los Angeles Times bureau chief for South America, tells his alarming story of drug lords' domination of the US/Mexico border region by focusing on the frustrations and martyrdom of Mexican reformers. Mexico's marijuana and cocaine smuggling rings are flourishing and expanding into other kinds of criminal activity. A US crackdown on illegal immigrant entries along the border has allowed crime syndicates to triple the price of a guided border crossing, while would-be migrants are more exposed to theft and death during their journey. Money buys power, and with all this new cash, the influence of Mexico's organized crime families is expanding at a frightening rate. When drug lords do get arrested, Rotella suggests, it's only because police are acting at the request of a rival mob. Meanwhile, a string of assassinations goes unsolved. Rotella takes a look at the conspiracy theories surrounding the 1994 murders of Cardinal Juan JÇsus Posadas Ocampo and presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, and suggests that the whole truth may never be known. Perhaps more disturbing is the mounting list of other assassinations—of those judicial reformers who were clearly killed because they couldn't be bought off. The reformist with a pragmatic approach is likely to survive the longest in this staggeringly corrupt political and judicial system, it would seem, and Rotella finds such a pragmatist in Duarte, a prison warden who cautiously negotiates with gangsters to replace their lavish prison condominiums with a rehabilitation training center. Yet like the brash police chief, the crusading prosecutor, and other agents of positive change whom Rotella profiles, Duarte too is eventually shot in a gangland-style assassination. Rotella admits that he and the many experts on the drug crisis quoted here are at a loss for solutions. But he makes it clear that Mexico's transition to greater electoral democracy will be threatened if more heroes don't step forward.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1998
Page Count: 224
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1997
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by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
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
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
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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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
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