A well-researched look into yet another global market undergoing significant growth due to Chinese businesses and consumers.

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THIRSTY DRAGON

CHINA'S LUST FOR BORDEAUX AND THE THREAT TO THE WORLD'S BEST WINES

Wine Spectator contributing editor Mustacich offers an in-depth account of the cultural and business tensions related to China’s growing desire for fine wines.

The author knows the wine business well, and she holds an enology diploma from the University of Bordeaux. Mustacich begins with a brief historical framework regarding the significance of Bordeaux wines, citing one of George Washington’s first requests as president for “150 bottles of 1785 Château Margaux.” The author explores how the growing market for wines in Asia, first in Japan and later in China, created an upheaval in business and cultural norms. She details the prominent role of the wholesale wine merchant throughout history and the effects of the recent global financial crisis on their relationship with the wine-growing estates. Once wine wholesalers understood the potential created by the Chinese desire for fine wine, speculation took over, and money flooded into the Bordeaux region. With the wave of currency came the usual shenanigans accompanying commodity bubbles. Intent on building wine-centered tourism, Chinese businessmen began snapping up prestigious châteaux in order to entice their fellow countrymen to visit Bordeaux; smuggling and counterfeit wines became common practices. Mustacich shows how a homegrown wine culture began with the planting of vineyards, wine education classes, and wine contests such as the China Wine Challenge, held in Shanghai. The author’s narrative scope is vast, and the number of different business entities and their transactions may be too much data for casual readers. However, the book is a good choice for readers seeking a business-oriented look at the intricacies of the wine business in a radically different cultural, political, and geographical milieu. For those with prior knowledge of how the wine world operates and looking for an educated commentary on China’s rising influence on the growing, buying, and selling of Bordeaux wine, Mustacich’s tale will hit a sweet spot.

A well-researched look into yet another global market undergoing significant growth due to Chinese businesses and consumers.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62779-087-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

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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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Not an easy read but an essential one.

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HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

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