Pieces that show Frazier’s ranging curiosity, lucent style, and capacious heart.

HOGS WILD

SELECTED REPORTING PIECES

The veteran humorist and reporter for the New Yorker presents a collection of pieces that record his pursuits of wild hogs, hermit crabs, Asian carp, a Styrofoam substitute, and numerous other quarry.

Most of these pieces date from the previous decade and are arranged in an order that reflects not so much chronology as rhythm (shorter ones are sprinkled in among the longer), though some do relate more or less thematically to those surrounding. A piece on beach art, for example, precedes one on Hurricane Sandy’s assault on the beaches and inland territory of Staten Island. Frazier (The Cursing Mommy’s Book of Days, 2012, etc.), who recently wrote about his journeys in a famously remote land (Travels in Siberia, 2010), ranges here over terrain more familiar to him—Manhattan and environs—although he does venture elsewhere, including Arizona and the Netherlands. In pieces previously published (and now slightly revised) in the New Yorker and other publications, the author gives readers a clear look at his research methods, fearlessness, vast curiosity, clear style, and unusual ability to get away with telling us things that would sound boring and unnecessary from a lesser writer—for instance, the routes and modes of transportation he took to arrive at relevant sites. His approach will remind readers of his great New Yorker colleague John McPhee: he seeks out the quirky and interesting people involved in his story (e.g., others who, like him, were seeking the place in Death Valley where Charles Manson was captured), gives us rich background derived from his deep reading of his subject (like an antidote to heroin overdoses), offers interviews with the principals in his cases (the family in New Jersey who thought a meteorite had punctured their bathroom ceiling), and so on. His celebrated humor glows rather than erupts in these more expository pieces.

Pieces that show Frazier’s ranging curiosity, lucent style, and capacious heart.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-374-29852-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

AN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES' HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

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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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