A galvanizing forecast of global warming’s endgame and a powerful indictment of America’s current stance.

STORMING THE WALL

CLIMATE CHANGE, MIGRATION, AND HOMELAND SECURITY

A well-researched and grim exploration of the connections between climate change and the political hostility toward the refugees it creates.

Journalist and activist Miller (Border Patrol Nation: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Homeland Security, 2014) expands on his earlier focus on U.S.–Mexico border controversies with an alarming catalog of climatological effects on population movements, surveillance, violence, and other current issues. “The theater for future climate battles,” he writes, “will be the world’s ever thickening border zones…vast numbers of people will be on the move, and vast numbers of people will be trained, armed, and paid to stop them.” In eight punchy, discretely themed chapters, the author establishes that the destructive effects of climate change are already manifest and that the U.S. is establishing a violent, heavy-handed pattern of response to it, as seen in the ramping up of border security. Miller visited several locales to witness this bleak transition, including Honduras and the U.S.–Mexico border, and he argues that these developing strife zones, far from representing natural change, are fundamentally class-based phenomena: “In the climate era, coexisting worlds of luxury living and impoverished desperation will only be magnified and compounded.” Ironically, the American military is committed to scientifically based preparation for coming crises, as is private enterprise. Miller also visited security conventions to see how the same corporatized elites who resist climate-change measures like the Paris Agreement will benefit financially from its increasing ill effects. He emphasizes that the harrowing confluence among climate disasters and militarized responses on behalf of elites is already prominent, noting that murders of activists skyrocketed in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, comparable to the use of privatized security to resegregate New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Miller makes a convincing, chilling argument based on an effective synthesis of research, interviews, and personal observation, and the impact is only slightly undercut by an occasionally shrill or pedantic tone.

A galvanizing forecast of global warming’s endgame and a powerful indictment of America’s current stance.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-87286-715-4

Page Count: 248

Publisher: City Lights

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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