Monday, June 11, 2012

Great titles are found @ your library

Becoming China's Bitch: And Nine More Catastrophes We Must Avoid Right Now by Peter D. Kiernan

Publishers Weekly – 
"In my youth, we were a nation obsessed with the Soviet Union….Where is our paranoia about China?" If it didn't exist already, former Goldman Sachs senior partner Kiernan seems determined to drum it up with laughably dramatic metaphors like " have developed a vampire's taste for the elixir of our economy—oil." In his "manifesto," Kiernan analyzes the reasons behind China's ascension and its potential to overtake the U.S. as the world's primary economic power. As a self-described "Radical Centrist," Kiernan underscores two causes for concern that require America's immediate attention: the growth of China's reserves, and the strength of its currency (the Renminbi, or Yuan). What deeply concerns the author is the U.S.'s lack of a strategy to deal with China once it takes the cap off its currency value. In Part I, Kiernan enumerates five reasons for America's inability to address the potential economic Chinese threat: "the Media Talk Complex," irresponsible political lobbyists, influential and biased think tanks, religious squabbling, and an ineffectual two-party system. In Part II, Kiernan goes on to discuss other challenges America faces, such as the same-sex marriage debate and whether to raise taxes on tobacco. Surprisingly, and despite the hawkish title, Kiernan suggests that the secret weapon to ensure success is not force, but rather an understanding of China. 

Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son by Anne Lamott

 Kirkus Reviews –

Being a grandparent is harder than it looks. Such is Lamott's (Imperfect Birds, 2010, etc.) message in this angst-ridden, occasionally neurotic diary of her grandson's first year. After gaining a large audience for Operating Instructions (1993), which chronicled her son Sam's first year of life, the author sets out to do the same after Sam became a father at age 19. Sam and erstwhile girlfriend Amy are parents to a healthy baby boy named Jax. In nearly daily entries, Lamott shares details of her life beginning with Jax's first full day after birth. Filled with a variety of characters--Sam, the young father in over his head; Amy, the beautiful mother whose strength Lamott seems to envy; Jax, the almost-perfect baby; various friends and family--the book is mostly about the author and her seething river of insecurities and anxieties. At nearly every turn, Lamott comes up with some new thing to worry about, a new facet of herself to loathe or a new characteristic of those close to her to deride and belittle. She struggles constantly with boundaries as a grandmother, and she bemoans her lack of control over situations. Another source of near-constant anxiety is the prospect of Amy moving away with Jax. Other fears are less grounded in reality: "I have these morbid, terrifying fantasies--but I had the same ones before Jax was born, that the baby would die and Sam would commit suicide." Eventually readers will grow tired of the author's angst, self-doubt and general negativity. A pale companion piece to Operation Instructions.

End This Depression Now! By Paul Krugman

Kirkus Reviews –

Krugman (Economics/Princeton Univ.; The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008, 2008, etc.) delivers an urgent message on ending the economic crisis. Despite apparent financial stabilization and indications of improvement, writes the Nobel laureate, the conditions of peoples' lives have not changed. "You can't have prosperity without a functioning financial system," he writes, "but stabilizing the financial system doesn't necessarily yield prosperity." The country needs strong leadership to build support for stimulus policies--e.g., large-scale job creation, debt relief and the reversal of current austerities--on a more expansive scale, rather than just accepting compromises. The author takes issue with three main objections: that government spending programs don't work, that increasing deficits undermine business confidence and that there aren't enough quality projects in which to invest. Given that the private sector is not investing enough to provide the needed increase in demand, government spending must be a significant part of the solution. Krugman also examines how the economic profession has lost its way over the last 30 years. For him, the current problems were effectively addressed during the 1930s by Keynes and others; the author doesn't have much patience with opponents or critics, considering them as representing political or ideological, not economic, views. He references ongoing research by a new generation of economists into how government intervention worked to end depressions in the past. An important contribution to the current study of economics and a reason for hope that effective solutions will be implemented again.

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