An impassioned indictment of a broken system and its enablers and necessary reading as the pandemic intensifies.

OUR MALADY

LESSONS IN LIBERTY FROM A HOSPITAL DIARY

The award-winning Yale historian launches a broadside against the American health care system.

“The day that had just begun, December 29, 2019, could have been my last.” So writes Snyder about his hospitalization and subsequent poor treatment over the next few months, experiences that left him enraged at the state of health care in America. “In five hospitals over three months,” the author found himself with a front-row seat to the beginnings of the coronavirus pandemic. He took detailed notes during his time as a patient, and he clearly shows a health care system far more interested in profits than health, a system that follows the dictates of computers and algorithms rather than any one-to-one relationship between doctor and patient. Snyder delivers a scathing critique of this “grotesque” and “ludicrous” system as well as a government response to the pandemic that he dismisses as “magical thinking.” Indeed, the Trump administration’s “unwillingness to test did not mean that we were healthy, only that we were ignorant,” and the “focus on a foreign source of ‘fault’ meant that no one here was to blame. When no one bears responsibility, no one has to do anything.” The author meticulously documents the health problems he suffered—among many others, a burst appendix, tremors, and “an abscess the size of a baseball in my liver”—seemingly all of which were ignored or misdiagnosed by doctors. Snyder compares the impersonalized, economy-driven care he received in American hospitals with the far more nurturing treatment he and his wife had experienced during a childbirth in Austria, a procedure that was both “intimate and inexpensive.” Ultimately, writes the author, “our botching of a pandemic is the latest symptom of our malady, of a politics that deals out pain and death rather than security and health, profit for a few rather than prosperity for the many.”

An impassioned indictment of a broken system and its enablers and necessary reading as the pandemic intensifies.

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-23889-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2022

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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