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 cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

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TEN LESSONS FOR A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD

The CNN host and bestselling author delivers a pithy roundup of some of the inevitable global changes that will follow the current pandemic.

Examining issues both obvious and subtler, Zakaria sets out how and why the world has changed forever. The speed with which the Covid-19 virus spread around the world was shocking, and the fallout has been staggering. In fact, writes the author, “it may well turn out that this viral speck will cause the greatest economic, political, and social damage to humankind since World War II.” The U.S., in particular, was exposed as woefully unprepared, as government leadership failed to deliver a clear, practical message, and the nation’s vaunted medical institutions were caught flat-footed: "Before the pandemic…Americans might have taken solace in the country’s great research facilities or the huge amounts of money spent on health care, while forgetting about the waste, complexity and deeply unequal access that mark it as well." While American leaders wasted months denying the seriousness of Covid-19 and ignoring the advice of medical experts, other countries—e.g., South Korea, New Zealand, and Taiwan—acted swiftly and decisively, underscoring one of the author's main themes and second lesson: "What matters is not the quantity of government but the quality.” Discussing how “markets are not enough,” the author astutely shoots down the myth that throwing money at the problem can fix the situation; as such, he predicts a swing toward more socialist-friendly policies. Zakaria also delves into the significance of the digital economy, the resilience of cities (see the success of Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taipei in suppressing the virus), the deepening of economic inequality around the world, how the pandemic has exacerbated the rift between China and the U.S. (and will continue to do so), and why “people should listen to the experts—and experts should listen to the people."

A cleareyed, concise look at current and future affairs offering pertinent points to reflect and debate.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-393-54213-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

THE HEROINE WITH 1001 FACES

From Penelope and Pandora to Katniss Everdeen and Lisbeth Salander, the "hero's journey" gets a much-needed makeover.

In her latest, Tatar—the Harvard professor of folklore and mythology and Germanic languages and literature who has annotated collections of classic fairy tales, Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, among others—begins by pointing out that all of the faces of heroism discussed in Joseph Campbell's influential book, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (1949), are male. To correct this requires a revision of the concept of heroism itself, rooted in numerous foundational texts. Starting with Greek mythology and Scheherezade and moving through the centuries all the way to the Game of Thrones series and The Queen's Gambit, Tatar incisively explores women's reinvention of heroism to embrace empathy, compassion, and care, often to pursue social justice. Among the many high points in this engaging study: an analysis of Little Women and Anne of Green Gables as autofiction, Jurassic Park as a reimagining of “Hansel and Gretel,” Harriet the Spy as an antiheroine, and a deep dive into the backstory of Wonder Woman. Receiving their own chapters are female sleuths such as Nancy Drew, Miss Marple, and the less well known characters of Kate Fansler, an academic, and Blanche White, who is Black. The book really takes off when it gets to contemporary culture, particularly in a section that identifies a female version of the "trickster" archetype in Everdeen and Salander. Of this lineage, among the shared interesting traits not traditionally associated with women characters is a prodigious appetite. "Like Gretel, Pippi Longstocking, and Lisbeth Salander before her,” writes Tatar, “Katniss gorges on rich food yet her hunger never ceases." The text is illustrated with many reproductions of paintings and other artwork—including a postcardworthy panel from the original Wonder Woman—that add much to the text.

As Wonder Woman might say, Suffering Sappho! This book is fascinating, fun, and consistently enlightening.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63149-881-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Liveright/Norton

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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