“Those who hold power have no interest in handing it over,” Abrams observes. Readers who follow her good advice may well...



Abrams offers a handbook for the dispossessed, disenfranchised, and underrepresented for rising to “our rightful place at the table, in the boardroom, and eventually, in office.”

Calling her book “the outsider’s version of The Art of War,” the author reveals herself to be a worthy successor to Sun Tzu. Had she won the 2018 race to become the governor of Georgia—and she only narrowly lost, and with substantial irregularities that suggested deliberate wrongdoing on the part of her opponent’s campaign—she would have been the “first black woman to serve as a governor in the United States.” Moreover, she would represent a younger generation, a changing ethnic demographic, and perhaps the “bluing” of the deep-red Deep South. “Greatness demands purpose,” she counsels, and she was well-prepared for that purpose. As she writes, her parents taught their children to prize knowledge and to strive to attain it even as frowning whites shook their heads in denial that a young black girl could win a citywide essay contest—something that, the author allows, might easily have dented her self-confidence and required grappling with doubt. “Our otherness operates as disqualification,” she observes, even as she recounts her substantial achievements, including graduating from Yale Law School and becoming one of only two African-American partners in a law firm that thought of itself as a model of diversity. “Dare to want more” she urges, a project that requires a plan with milestones: “It is by wanting more that we begin,” she writes of that journey to achievement, which involves stretching to the limits of one’s abilities—limits that are probably far beyond their imagined bounds. It also involves many facets, including constant learning, peer mentorship, mastering money matters, and “having the audacity to make mistakes.”

“Those who hold power have no interest in handing it over,” Abrams observes. Readers who follow her good advice may well find themselves wresting it in electoral cycles to come.

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-21480-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Picador

Review Posted Online: April 8, 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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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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