Though no substitute for the larger epic, the book is a reliable gloss on a troubling era.

THE KING YEARS

HISTORIC MOMENTS IN THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT

The quick-read version of the author’s three-volume America in the King Years, focusing more on dramatic high points than narrative context.

The best that can be said of this slim, digestible book is that Pulitzer winner Branch (The Cartel: Inside the Rise and Imminent Fall of the NCAA, 2011, etc.) was in charge, and he knows where to cut and how to stitch. As the title suggests, this is a series of scenes from the civil rights struggle, drawn from the three volumes of Branch’s massive trilogy: Parting the Waters (1988), Pillar of Fire (1998) and At Canaan’s Edge (2006). For students new to the subject (or readers in a hurry), this book gives a solid sense of how the civil rights movement grew under Martin Luther King Jr., from the day he was drafted to lead the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955 to his assassination on the steps of a Memphis motel in 1968. The chapters along the way hit all the watershed events: the Freedom Rides, the 1964 March on Washington, the murders of civil rights workers in Mississippi, the polarizing effect of the civil rights bill on the Republican and Democratic political conventions, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s poisonous campaign against King, the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, and the way a defiantly nonviolent movement splintered into more radical groups under Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael. Branch seamlessly weaves together different parts from separate volumes to provide a coherent story in each chapter, and the stories are well-told but occasionally frustrating—readers will often want more.

Though no substitute for the larger epic, the book is a reliable gloss on a troubling era.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4516-7897-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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