More than 700 book reviews

Tag Archive for ‘poverty’

A superb tale of a future where artificial intelligence rules

This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Centuries in the future, the people of Earth live under the control of an artificial intelligence called UniComp. A century and a half earlier, the computers governing the five continents had come together in the Unification. The result was a worldwide society free of… Read More ›

Is the U.S. on the road to totalitarianism?

1984, by George Orwell @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Ten days ago Donald Trump was inaugurated as President of the United States. The actions he’s already taken confirm the widespread suspicions about his authoritarian personality that so many remarked upon during his campaign. Many observers saw him as the heir to Adolf Hitler or Benito… Read More ›

Charm in abundance at the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Precious and Grace (No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency #17), by Alexander McCall Smith @@@@@ (5 out of 5) Precious Ramotswe is a “traditionally built” woman who founded and runs the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. She is known throughout Botswana’s capital, Gaborone, for her wisdom and her street smarts. She is also reflective, unfailingly kind,… Read More ›

The pleasures of reading Maisie Dobbs

A review of An Incomplete Revenge (Maisie Dobbs #5), by Jacqueline Winspear @@@@ (4 out of 5) Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series is always a refreshing change from the blood and guts that are common fare in most other detective fiction. Maisie, who bills herself as a “Psychologist and Investigator,” is unlike any other protagonist… Read More ›

Paradise lost in a small Idaho town

A review of Wayward (Wayward Pines #2), by Blake Crouch @@@@ (4 out of 5) Spoiler alert: do NOT read this book (or this review!) unless you have already read Pines, the first novel in the Wayward Pines trilogy. Wayward is the second. It makes absolutely no sense as a standalone story. Now, assuming that… Read More ›

An intimate look at drug trafficking in Brazil

A review of Nemesis: One Man and the Battle for Rio, by Misha Glenny @@@@ (4 out of 5) Journalist Misha Glenny’s exploration of criminal gangs and drug trafficking in Rio de Janeiro focuses on one favela (slum) and one drug lord. It’s a fascinating and surprising tale that pokes under the covers of the… Read More ›

Hillbilly? Redneck? White trash?

A review of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance @@@@ (4 out of 5) Two recent books set out to paint a picture of working-class culture. One is White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg. I found the book to… Read More ›

Do property rights explain why capitalism works in the West but not in the rest?

A review of The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, by Hernando de Soto @@@@ (4 out of 5) One of the world’s enduring mysteries is why there is such a wide gap in prosperity between the developed nations and those so often referred to as “developing.” Two… Read More ›

A satisfying thriller set in Zimbabwe

A review of The Death of Rex Nhongo: A Novel, by C. B. George @@@@ (4 out of 5) The Death of Rex Nhongo is framed as a thriller, but its primary value (at least to me) is the intimate portrait it paints of Zimbabwe today. The setting: Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare Zimbabwe, as you are… Read More ›

The man who trained Cesar Chavez in community organizing

A review of America’s Social Arsonist: Fred Ross and Grassroots Organizing in the Twentieth Century, by Gabriel Thompson @@@@ (4 out of 5) When the topic of community organizing comes up, a single name comes quickly to mind: Saul Alinsky. Alinsky is often cited as the founder of the field, having made his name through… Read More ›