A passionate appeal, for Americans in particular and the world at large, to rethink the benefits of a well-rounded, general...

IN DEFENSE OF A LIBERAL EDUCATION

Why Americans should continue to embrace a well-rounded education.

After being accepted at Yale, Zakaria (The Post-American World: Release 2.0, 2011, etc.)—who emigrated from India, a country whose educational system is deeply rooted in the concept of learning a skill or trade rather than embracing a general education—had to decide on a course of study. Although fearful of what his Indian friends might think, he decided to major in history, a subject he was passionate about but one that was not necessarily considered useful. Zakaria implores all Americans to reconsider the idea of obtaining a liberal education, using solid evidence from Colonial days to the present to show that a liberal education is the ultimate element that separates the educational system of the United States from much of the rest of the world. America was founded on new ideas and people who didn't want to be locked into the European method of learning via specific training and/or apprenticeships. Zakaria's arguments are cohesive, and his accessible prose logically progresses as he builds his case for a type of education that opens doors that might otherwise never be discovered. "A good educational system must confront the realities of the world we live in and educate in a way that addresses them,” he writes, “rather than pretend that these challenges don't exist." A liberal education gives one the tools to be able to learn anything, whether it is science-based, technology-based, or something altogether different. It emphasizes methods of writing and speaking one's thoughts through creative endeavors and the pursuit of interests that hold attention far beyond the classroom. Zakaria adroitly points out that thanks to the Internet and online classes, the opportunity to learn anything, just about anywhere in the world, is now available to the global population, so there's no reason not to take advantage.

A passionate appeal, for Americans in particular and the world at large, to rethink the benefits of a well-rounded, general education.

Pub Date: March 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24768-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

Did you like this book?

more