A book that will undoubtedly stir discussion—as many of Cowen’s books do—with readers divided about how they stand based on...

THE COMPLACENT CLASS

THE SELF-DEFEATING QUEST FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM

An influential economist seeks to persuade readers that American citizens have gotten overly complacent, that a crisis point is near, and that a widespread rebellion may alter the existing order.

Using data from a variety of sources, extrapolating from that data, and mixing in large dollops of admitted speculation, Cowen (Chair, Economics/George Mason Univ.; Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation, 2013, etc.) claims that the population at large is resisting changes in the economy that could improve the social order. The author, who runs Marginal Revolution, “the “most-read economics blog worldwide,” divides the population into three complacent categories: “The Privileged Class,” who are comfortable and usually wealthy; “Those Who Dig In,” roughly equivalent to the traditional middle class; and “Those Who Got Stuck,” who, Cowen maintains, have pretty much given up trying to rise economically and socially (many were never given the chance to do so). The author focuses on a variety of issues, including the downturn in Americans moving to different regions to seek improvement, increased racial and/or ethnic segregation, decreased innovation in the business sector, stagnation within pop culture, and failure to challenge authority in an organized manner. As he builds his argument against complacency, Cowen regularly employs metaphors and analogies that help illuminate his positions; he is a skilled stylist and polished debater. In the final analysis, though, whether he is persuasive will depend heavily on how willing readers will be to accept sweeping generalizations about the American populace. In conclusion, Cowen describes how a dynamic society should look and feel, and then he shifts his pessimism about the present to a sort of ersatz optimism about the future, when current structures collapse and chaos improves American democracy.

A book that will undoubtedly stir discussion—as many of Cowen’s books do—with readers divided about how they stand based on where they currently sit.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-10869-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 21

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

HOW TO BE AN ANTIRACIST

Title notwithstanding, this latest from the National Book Award–winning author is no guidebook to getting woke.

In fact, the word “woke” appears nowhere within its pages. Rather, it is a combination memoir and extension of Atlantic columnist Kendi’s towering Stamped From the Beginning (2016) that leads readers through a taxonomy of racist thought to anti-racist action. Never wavering from the thesis introduced in his previous book, that “racism is a powerful collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity and are substantiated by racist ideas,” the author posits a seemingly simple binary: “Antiracism is a powerful collection of antiracist policies that lead to racial equity and are substantiated by antiracist ideas.” The author, founding director of American University’s Antiracist Research and Policy Center, chronicles how he grew from a childhood steeped in black liberation Christianity to his doctoral studies, identifying and dispelling the layers of racist thought under which he had operated. “Internalized racism,” he writes, “is the real Black on Black Crime.” Kendi methodically examines racism through numerous lenses: power, biology, ethnicity, body, culture, and so forth, all the way to the intersectional constructs of gender racism and queer racism (the only section of the book that feels rushed). Each chapter examines one facet of racism, the authorial camera alternately zooming in on an episode from Kendi’s life that exemplifies it—e.g., as a teen, he wore light-colored contact lenses, wanting “to be Black but…not…to look Black”—and then panning to the history that informs it (the antebellum hierarchy that valued light skin over dark). The author then reframes those received ideas with inexorable logic: “Either racist policy or Black inferiority explains why White people are wealthier, healthier, and more powerful than Black people today.” If Kendi is justifiably hard on America, he’s just as hard on himself. When he began college, “anti-Black racist ideas covered my freshman eyes like my orange contacts.” This unsparing honesty helps readers, both white and people of color, navigate this difficult intellectual territory.

Not an easy read but an essential one.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-50928-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: One World/Random House

Review Posted Online: April 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

more