Revealing reading to think about before the midterms heat up.

THE RED AND THE BLUE

THE 1990S AND THE BIRTH OF POLITICAL TRIBALISM

Tired of the political squabbling and incivility of our day? Blame it on hanging chads—and Newt Gingrich.

According to NBC and MSNBC political correspondent Kornacki, the notion that there are two Americas, more or less equal in strength, dates precisely to Nov. 7, 2000, “the product of an entire nation torn perfectly in half.” The rupture took time to build, though; one climacteric was the civil rights movement of the postwar era, which led to the formation of a Southern, segregationist wing of the Democratic Party that would in time switch to the Republicans and take the South with them. When Bill Clinton came along in the 1990s, he brought a “New Democratic” style meant in at least some regard to woo the region back into the fold, but Republican firebrand Gingrich would have none of it. Instead, he practiced a slash-and-burn, us-vs.-them politics that verged on civil war. Few of his allies liked him, but indeed, “even if they still despised him, they had to respect him” after he toppled Speaker of the House Jim Wright with a decidedly malign but effective campaign. Gingrich, rising to that position, took it as his brief to “obliterate all that modernism had created,” and were it not for his considerable failings, he might have succeeded—unfortunately, others have continued that project. After eight years of Gingrich versus Clinton, and after some serious missteps on the part of Clinton’s would-be successor, Al Gore, the electoral map took the form it bears now, with blue states north of the Mason-Dixon Line and red ones mostly below it—and with intractable differences that all but guarantee the impossibility of any future candidate’s winning by a transnational landslide as Ronald Reagan did.

Revealing reading to think about before the midterms heat up.

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-243898-0

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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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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