Convincing, entertaining and authoritative overview of voting systems and their pitfalls.

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GAMING THE VOTE

WHY ELECTIONS AREN’T FAIR (AND WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT)

Why the United States’s pluralistic voting system doesn’t always pick the “right” winner—and, more importantly, what could be done to make it better.

Vote splitting, the phenomenon in which two candidates of similar political persuasion “split” the support of like-minded voters and put the least-popular candidate in office, is common in the United States, argues Poundstone (Fortune’s Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street, 2005, etc.). Under the current one-person-one-vote, plurality-based system in place, it’s also virtually inevitable. By his calculation, in the 45 presidential elections since 1828, at least five (11 percent) have been won by the second most popular candidate because of a “spoiler.” Is it possible to come up with a fairer voting method? He explores an array of alternatives that might be bewildering in less capable hands: Borda voting (ranking all candidates from most to least preferred); Condorcet voting (holding a succession of two-way votes between every possible pair of candidates); instant-runoff voting (a series in which the least popular candidates are successively eliminated); and proportional representation (an offshoot of instant-runoff that attempts to reproduce the diversity of the electorate on the smaller scale of the legislature). Poundstone concludes that the only system that can’t be manipulated so that the “wrong” candidate wins is one called “range voting,” in which voters assign rankings to candidates and the one with the most “points” wins. According to Poundstone, computer simulations have shown that range voting produces a higher level of voter satisfaction: the feeling that, regardless of an election’s outcome, they would not change their vote. The dilemma, he acknowledges, is that our current, “unfair” system is supported by a wide variety of candidates, strategists and party hacks with a strong interest in retaining a two-party, winner-take-all system. This makes adopting, or even discussing, a new system a formidable challenge.

Convincing, entertaining and authoritative overview of voting systems and their pitfalls.

Pub Date: Feb. 12, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-8090-4893-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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