Perceptive insights into a consistently dysfunctional international relationship.

RUSSIA UPSIDE DOWN

AN EXIT STRATEGY FOR THE SECOND COLD WAR

A cogent assessment of Russia from a former CIA officer and creator of the TV show The Americans.

Coming of age in the 1970s, Weisberg was taught that the Soviet Union was communist and politically repressive and the U.S. was the opposite. Then the Soviet Union collapsed, and the new Russia embraced Christianity and capitalism but remained repressive—although less so. Relations improved but then deteriorated into what many call a second cold war. Weisberg, a levelheaded analyst, maintains that the rise of an assertive Russia under Putin convinced American leaders that the evil empire had returned. The author adds that American politicians regularly proclaim that people throughout the world yearn for democracy, although the efforts to spread it have been uniformly disastrous. To Russians, democracy arrived in the 1990s with crime, anarchy, and severe economic hardship. Taking office in 1999, Putin reasserted government authority. The stability and prosperity that followed came with significant restrictions on freedom but also made him very popular. Unlike his Soviet predecessors, Putin kept his ambitions local, but the U.S. didn’t see it that way. Though promising otherwise, the U.S. swept former satellites into NATO, reviving Soviet fears of being surrounded by enemies. Despite unedifying American policies in Cuba and Latin America, U.S. officials denounced Russian bullying of its neighbors and supported heavy economic sanctions. Readers outraged at Russian cyberattacks may be surprised to learn that America has long been doing the same. Russian historians emphasize that America was largely founded by slave owners. When they claim that America conducted a genocidal slaughter of Native peoples, Americans often respond that Stalin killed millions—not exactly evidence of moral purity on either side. Weisberg clearly knows his stuff, and while his suggestions on how to fix matters may be too sensible to appeal to patriots from either nation, readers will have no doubt that our current approach is not working.

Perceptive insights into a consistently dysfunctional international relationship.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5417-6862-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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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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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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