A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.



A veteran sociologist maps nearly four decades of changes in an urban “bellwether of change.”

“Houston is America on demographic fast-forward,” Klineberg argues in a trailblazing study that draws on 38 years of annual surveys of residents’ views by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, of which the author is the founding director. His strongest evidence includes the “entropy index,” or “how close a given population comes to having equal fourths of Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Anglos.” As the author notes, “by that measure, the Houston region is virtually tied with the New York metro for the diversity crown.” Yet as the city has predicted and reflected the American shift toward a more multiethnic society, it embodies the nation’s paradoxes. An anti-government, pro-business city, Houston elected the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, Annise Parker, in 2009, but voted against guaranteeing equal rights for the LGBTQ community in 2015. The city remains “profoundly segregated,” marked by growing income and educational inequalities. Underlying such realities are region-specific variations on national concerns such as crime, pollution, immigration, traffic congestion, and climate and economic uncertainties. Built on a swampy, bayou-laced, Gulf Coast floodplain, the city is vulnerable to devastating storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and it has an industrial base in petrochemicals, raising “the question of how much longer oil and gas can sustain the Houston economy” as people turn to alternate energy sources. Although perhaps too optimistic in his conclusion that Houstonians can help to build “a truly successful universal city and nation, the first of its kind in human history,” Klineberg supports his case with a wealth of survey research, interviews with experts, and user-friendly graphs, all of which make this book invaluable for anyone seeking a deep understanding of an underappreciated city.

A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7791-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“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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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

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