A pleasure for fans of both Springsteen and Obama and a fine affirmation of true American values.

RENEGADES

BORN IN THE USA

A richly illustrated companion to the duo’s podcast.

It was Obama, writes Springsteen, who approached him with the idea that they host a podcast together. “Okay, I’m a high school graduate from Freehold, New Jersey, who plays the guitar….What’s wrong with this picture?” Springsteen recalls. He overcame his shyness, fortunately, and the two came together in 2020 for a series of conversations that ranged from shared love for music and cool cars—at one point, the two flee Springsteen’s spread for the beach, the Secret Service hot behind them, with Obama saying of the getaway car, “It’s smooth, man. Smoother than I expected”—to pensive observations on the state of the nation and the world. Obama lets his freak flag fly, with enthusiasms over such things as the Average White Band, funky albeit all-White and Scottish, while Springsteen has frequent opportunities to take philosophical turns. “I believe that I am involved in a ridiculous but noble profession,” he says, “and that music had an impact on me, changed my life, changed who I thought I was, changed who I became.” Few of the world’s problems were solved in the course of their discussions, but the authors point the way in such matters as positive race relations, an icon for which was Springsteen’s friendship with late band mate Clarence Clemons, as witnessed on the cover art for Born to Run. The discourse is at its best when the authors turn into deeply hidden corners, as when they discuss being the sons of absent fathers, with Springsteen allowing that much of his working-class persona is borrowed from his: “My entire body of work, everything that I’ve cared about, everything that I’ve written about, draws from his life story.” A summary of the book’s spirit comes when the former president issues a call to action that’s nicely rock ’n’ roll: “Stir. Shit. Up. And open up new possibilities.”

A pleasure for fans of both Springsteen and Obama and a fine affirmation of true American values.

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-23631-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 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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