A caustic, subjective sociological case study.



Clean energy meets serious opposition in this partisan account of an effort to harvest wind power off the coast of Nantucket.

Windmills placed in the waters around Cape Cod might seem like a good way to supplement the power supply for New England, an area with high energy costs as well as a history of waters poisoned by petroleum spills and air polluted by smokestacks. But when entrepreneur Jim Gordon proposed to build a field of wind turbines five miles from the shores of Nantucket and its ritzy summer homes, NIMBY fury burst forth. It would be bad for the birds and the whales, said local yachtsmen, unsupported by facts. The core objection of celebrity opponents like historian David McCullough was that Cape Wind would be “visual pollution,” an unwelcome blot on the seascapes enjoyed from their verandahs or boats. Investigative journalist Williams and Providence Journal editor Whitcomb rake some fine muck to conclude that, “money and corrupt government officials are hijacking our nation’s economic and environmental future.” From the start, their sympathies are clear: The heroes striving to build Cape Wind talk straight; the bad guys trying to block it rave and fulminate. Although the authors conscientiously explain the technology involved, their main focus is on the maelstrom of money and politics in which an entrenched elite wielded undue power against a clean energy source. The battle over Cape Wind was fought through town meetings, state government, courtrooms and across party lines in the U.S. Congress; Governor Mitt Romney and some of the Kennedy clan were among the major players. The book ends, but the story is not over. More than five years after they were first proposed, the Cape Wind turbines are not yet built, but neither is the project dead.

A caustic, subjective sociological case study.

Pub Date: May 7, 2007

ISBN: 1-58648-397-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2007

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


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.


“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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