Few will mourn the eradication of the violence and drugs that once defined 42nd Street, but neither will they cheer its...

DOWN 42ND STREET

SEX, MONEY, CULTURE, AND POLITICS AT THE CROSSROADS OF THE WORLD

“Ground zero for the manufacture, exhibition, and distribution of pornography, drug dealing, pedophilia, prostitution, and violent street crime,” the old 42nd Street gets a root-tootin’ sendoff.

As a home to raunch, the stretch of 42nd Street west of Sixth Avenue has long been true to itself, writes Eliot (To the Limit, 1998, etc.). Even back when it was known as Long Acre Square, in the days before the New York Times moved in and changed the address, it had as many brothels as it did horse stables, as many hoodlums as rats. The author charts the street's sordid past, in which everyone seemed to have a scam to run, from supposedly reputable businessmen like Vanderbilt, Astor, and Chrysler through Boss Tweed and on down to the pimps, cardsharps, and real-estate developers. Eliot has a talent for cutting through the city's byzantine politics without a loss of nuance to explain how mayors from Jimmy Walker and Fiorello La Guardia to Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani played the 42nd Street card to their aggrandizement. He also does a fine job conjuring a sense of the street's atmosphere beyond the sleaze, particularly the diverse world of the performing arts, ranging from the great spaces and great stars to the rehearsal halls, script services, wigmakers, makeup companies, costume-makers, and violin bow–makers to capture the entire theatrical community. Well researched and impressively detailed, the narrative paints a rich picture of the street's evolution. It’s marred only by Eliot’s tendency to logorrhea and weakness for purple prose (“the air began to stink from a turgid waft of human sweat and canned Lysol that hung tough at the nostril level”) that quickly wears thin.

Few will mourn the eradication of the violence and drugs that once defined 42nd Street, but neither will they cheer its transformation into a “big-ticket corporate alley.” (Illustrations throughout)

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2001

ISBN: 0-446-52571-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2001

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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