A richly documented indictment of power and corruption that bears urgent discussion in the coming electoral cycle.



One-time attorney Abramson extends the argument begun in Proof of Collusion: How Trump Betrayed America (2018) by widening the net of culprits.

Donald Trump entered the field of presidential contenders without a discernible ideology save receiving money for nothing, a penchant that many actors were glad to serve. In this long, complex study, the author adds evidence concerning the principal actor, Russia, while layering on other parties: Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates. Each has served Trump in various ways—Saudi Arabia, for example, by once bailing Trump out from bankruptcy—and each has been rewarded in turn, with Egypt removed from sanctions, given more military aid than it requested, and legitimated even as elected members of the Muslim Brotherhood were branded as terrorists. There are geopolitical issues surrounding this network of “Red Sea conspirators,” as Abramson dubs them: All are committed to the continued supremacy of the oil economy, all are positioned to contain Iran and Syria, and all are autocratic to one extent or another—and there’s not much Trump likes better than an autocratic leader. Russia remains the principal villain of the piece, but, as the author writes, “the Saudis and Emiratis marked…the additional slate of possibilities opened up by the Kremlin’s burgeoning interest in a political neophyte with malleable ethics.” By Abramson’s extensive account, malleability has shifted into full-blown corruption, as Trump and his associates accepted Israeli intelligence here, Russian offers of support there, and the like. The author’s deft tracing of the undeclared international shuttling back and forth between interested parties of former Trump aide Michael Flynn will make readers wonder why he’s not locked inside a maximum security prison. Abramson closes by connecting the dots in current newspaper headlines: Netanyahu wins reelection in Israel, Saudi Arabia declares war on dissidents and neighboring nations alike, Trump pledges an additional 10,000 American troops for deployment in the Middle East, a prelude to war in Iran….

A richly documented indictment of power and corruption that bears urgent discussion in the coming electoral cycle.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-25671-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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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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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. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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