A witty, comprehensively researched time capsule from an unforgettable age of excess, scandal, and sex.

THE NAUGHTY NINETIES

THE TRIUMPH OF THE AMERICAN LIBIDO

How multiculturalism and sexual liberation shaped a distinctive decade.

Emmy Award–winning documentarian and Vanity Fair editor Friend (Watching the World Change: The Stories Behind the Images of 9/11, 2006) meticulously captures the libidinous 1990s through the milestones that made the time period so indelible—and sometimes cringeworthy. The author casts a wide net over the entire decade and encapsulates political shifts and social changes, including the tabloid sensationalism of Donald Trump’s divorce from Ivana, an event that marked the beginning of this heady “high-living, free-spending, balls-out era.” Through key interviews and focused cultural analysis, Friend brings to life the “seismic shifts occurring at society’s core,” such as the rise of Viagra, medically enhanced fertility, the narrowing window of puberty for young women, Camille Paglia and third-wave feminism, the controversial “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, gay marriage equality, and the fascinations with breast augmentation and the Brazilian bikini wax. The multifaceted world of entertainment was graced with the outspokenness of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, the antics of Howard Stern, Hollywood psychodramas, and the normalization of perennial plastic surgery. The author also discusses the brave sensuality of Demi Moore’s magazine cover and Ellen DeGeneres’ self-outing as having as much popular culture clout as the surgical precision of scorned wife Lorena Bobbitt and the courtroom circuses involving Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones, and Anita Hill. Friend also shows how the mainstreaming of sex and the prevalence of and reliance on the internet for entertainment, pornography, and rapid-fire information (and the conservative, morality fueled backlash) played influential parts in swaying the masses toward less puritanical attitudes about eroticism. The author’s field studies include joining a Manhattan bus tour of Sex and the City filming locations with anthropologist Helen Fisher and enlightening, contemporary interviews with Bobbitt, Jones, Heidi Fleiss, and others. Friend’s clever afterword dovetails the political sins of the 1990s with how their eventual forgiveness ushered in the age of the billionaire as presidential candidate.

A witty, comprehensively researched time capsule from an unforgettable age of excess, scandal, and sex.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-446-55629-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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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