PROPHETIC CITY

HOUSTON ON THE CUSP OF A CHANGING AMERICA

A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.

A veteran sociologist maps nearly four decades of changes in an urban “bellwether of change.”

“Houston is America on demographic fast-forward,” Klineberg argues in a trailblazing study that draws on 38 years of annual surveys of residents’ views by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, of which the author is the founding director. His strongest evidence includes the “entropy index,” or “how close a given population comes to having equal fourths of Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Anglos.” As the author notes, “by that measure, the Houston region is virtually tied with the New York metro for the diversity crown.” Yet as the city has predicted and reflected the American shift toward a more multiethnic society, it embodies the nation’s paradoxes. An anti-government, pro-business city, Houston elected the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, Annise Parker, in 2009, but voted against guaranteeing equal rights for the LGBTQ community in 2015. The city remains “profoundly segregated,” marked by growing income and educational inequalities. Underlying such realities are region-specific variations on national concerns such as crime, pollution, immigration, traffic congestion, and climate and economic uncertainties. Built on a swampy, bayou-laced, Gulf Coast floodplain, the city is vulnerable to devastating storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and it has an industrial base in petrochemicals, raising “the question of how much longer oil and gas can sustain the Houston economy” as people turn to alternate energy sources. Although perhaps too optimistic in his conclusion that Houstonians can help to build “a truly successful universal city and nation, the first of its kind in human history,” Klineberg supports his case with a wealth of survey research, interviews with experts, and user-friendly graphs, all of which make this book invaluable for anyone seeking a deep understanding of an underappreciated city.

A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7791-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

MAGIC WORDS

WHAT TO SAY TO GET YOUR WAY

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Want to get ahead in business? Consult a dictionary.

By Wharton School professor Berger’s account, much of the art of persuasion lies in the art of choosing the right word. Want to jump ahead of others waiting in line to use a photocopy machine, even if they’re grizzled New Yorkers? Throw a because into the equation (“Excuse me, I have five pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?”), and you’re likely to get your way. Want someone to do your copying for you? Then change your verbs to nouns: not “Can you help me?” but “Can you be a helper?” As Berger notes, there’s a subtle psychological shift at play when a person becomes not a mere instrument in helping but instead acquires an identity as a helper. It’s the little things, one supposes, and the author offers some interesting strategies that eager readers will want to try out. Instead of alienating a listener with the omniscient should, as in “You should do this,” try could instead: “Well, you could…” induces all concerned “to recognize that there might be other possibilities.” Berger’s counsel that one should use abstractions contradicts his admonition to use concrete language, and it doesn’t help matters to say that each is appropriate to a particular situation, while grammarians will wince at his suggestion that a nerve-calming exercise to “try talking to yourself in the third person (‘You can do it!’)” in fact invokes the second person. Still, there are plenty of useful insights, particularly for students of advertising and public speaking. It’s intriguing to note that appeals to God are less effective in securing a loan than a simple affirmative such as “I pay all bills…on time”), and it’s helpful to keep in mind that “the right words used at the right time can have immense power.”

Perhaps not magic but appealing nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780063204935

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harper Business

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023

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