Avid viewers will be surprised by this exposé of the seedy partnership between Hollywood and the Chinese government.

RED CARPET

HOLLYWOOD, CHINA, AND THE GLOBAL BATTLE FOR CULTURAL SUPREMACY

How China muscled its way into Hollywood moviemaking from the mid-1990s on to begin directing what America watches.

“By 2020, China would be the number one box-office market world, home to grosses that routinely neared $1 billion—a market that became too big to ignore and too lucrative to anger,” writes Wall Street Journal film reporter Schwartzel. While largely closed to American moviemaking before 1994, China recognized, as indeed Hollywood had learned after World War II, that making movies not only could be America’s No. 1 export, but could also influence the public—and exercise political sway. The growth was slow but incremental, as the author demonstrates, from the creaky opening up to American culture after the death of Mao Zedong and China’s embrace of capitalism in the 1990s to its full-blown censorship efforts under President Xi Jinping “as an essential arm to a recast Middle Kingdom.” Schwartzel’s examples are both fascinating and disturbing—e.g., the ability of China’s behind-the-scenes influence to remove the Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s iconic bomber jacket in the remake of Top Gun: Maverick in 2019; squelch the marketing of movies about the Dalai Lama and Buddhism, such as Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun; and vilify and ban publicly pro-Tibetan actor advocates like Richard Gere and China critics like Brad Pitt, as well as Nomadland director Chloé Zhao. The author adds that China finagled a deal at the time of the Beijing Olympics to build a Disney theme park in China, while Hollywood, eager to please, filmed an appalling remake of Red Dawn to please China (“anticipatory censorship”), with North Korea as the villains. As Schwartzel demonstrates, China has the money to demand an entertainment business that will support its new political rise, and Hollywood, aware of the vast Chinese market, is not saying no.

Avid viewers will be surprised by this exposé of the seedy partnership between Hollywood and the Chinese government.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-984878-99-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

21 LESSONS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

A highly instructive exploration of “current affairs and…the immediate future of human societies.”

Having produced an international bestseller about human origins (Sapiens, 2015, etc.) and avoided the sophomore jinx writing about our destiny (Homo Deus, 2017), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) proves that he has not lost his touch, casting a brilliantly insightful eye on today’s myriad crises, from Trump to terrorism, Brexit to big data. As the author emphasizes, “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations, and the simpler the story, the better. Every person, group, and nation has its own tales and myths.” Three grand stories once predicted the future. World War II eliminated the fascist story but stimulated communism for a few decades until its collapse. The liberal story—think democracy, free markets, and globalism—reigned supreme for a decade until the 20th-century nasties—dictators, populists, and nationalists—came back in style. They promote jingoism over international cooperation, vilify the opposition, demonize immigrants and rival nations, and then win elections. “A bit like the Soviet elites in the 1980s,” writes Harari, “liberals don’t understand how history deviates from its preordained course, and they lack an alternative prism through which to interpret reality.” The author certainly understands, and in 21 painfully astute essays, he delivers his take on where our increasingly “post-truth” world is headed. Human ingenuity, which enables us to control the outside world, may soon re-engineer our insides, extend life, and guide our thoughts. Science-fiction movies get the future wrong, if only because they have happy endings. Most readers will find Harari’s narrative deliciously reasonable, including his explanation of the stories (not actually true but rational) of those who elect dictators, populists, and nationalists. His remedies for wildly disruptive technology (biotech, infotech) and its consequences (climate change, mass unemployment) ring true, provided nations act with more good sense than they have shown throughout history.

Harari delivers yet another tour de force.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-51217-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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