A profoundly disconcerting book that, with luck, will inspire reform to aid the dopesick and punish their suppliers.

RAISING LAZARUS

HOPE, JUSTICE, AND THE FUTURE OF AMERICA’S OVERDOSE CRISIS

Macy follows her consequential book Dopesick with another account of big pharma’s role in killing Americans and of the frontline workers who are trying to save them.

“They say we’re going to lose a generation if we don’t do something. I say we’ve already lost that generation.” So noted a West Virginian while recounting that nearly everyone in her town has been affected by the opioid crisis. Macy hits the small towns of Appalachia and the archives to deliver another damning indictment of the Sackler family, who “willfully created the opioid crisis…a murderous rampage that has victimized hundreds of thousands of people in this country.” Via their company Purdue Pharma, the Sacklers unleashed a flood of OxyContin on the market, bribed doctors to overprescribe it, and then relied on the stigma and shame attached to addiction to ward off lawsuits. When the lawsuits finally arrived, the Sacklers were prepared. “For a quarter century,” writes Macy, “the Sacklers masterminded and micromanaged a relentless marketing campaign for their killer drug, then surgically drained the company of $10 billion when they saw trouble on the horizon.” The Sacklers have since been shamed and stigmatized, their name removed from museum halls and university buildings, but they have been able to keep their money—so far, anyway. Meanwhile, in what Macy calls the “Uneven States of America,” the drug crisis continues to grow, with future substance-dependent people beginning their drug journeys, not ending them, with heroin and fentanyl. Against this epidemic stand health workers, legal reformers, and pioneering judges who have established drug courts to dispense not punishment but treatment. Then there are the conservative politicians from, ironically, the red states most likely to be awash in a flood of drugs, who remain busy “amplifying NIMBYism” to oppose needle exchanges, free clinics, homeless shelters, and other social welfare vehicles for helping the afflicted.

A profoundly disconcerting book that, with luck, will inspire reform to aid the dopesick and punish their suppliers.

Pub Date: tomorrow

ISBN: 978-0-316-43022-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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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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