Avid viewers will be surprised by this exposé of the seedy partnership between Hollywood and the Chinese government.

RED CARPET

HOLLYWOOD, CHINA, AND THE GLOBAL BATTLE FOR CULTURAL SUPREMACY

How China muscled its way into Hollywood moviemaking from the mid-1990s on to begin directing what America watches.

“By 2020, China would be the number one box-office market world, home to grosses that routinely neared $1 billion—a market that became too big to ignore and too lucrative to anger,” writes Wall Street Journal film reporter Schwartzel. While largely closed to American moviemaking before 1994, China recognized, as indeed Hollywood had learned after World War II, that making movies not only could be America’s No. 1 export, but could also influence the public—and exercise political sway. The growth was slow but incremental, as the author demonstrates, from the creaky opening up to American culture after the death of Mao Zedong and China’s embrace of capitalism in the 1990s to its full-blown censorship efforts under President Xi Jinping “as an essential arm to a recast Middle Kingdom.” Schwartzel’s examples are both fascinating and disturbing—e.g., the ability of China’s behind-the-scenes influence to remove the Taiwanese flag from Tom Cruise’s iconic bomber jacket in the remake of Top Gun: Maverick in 2019; squelch the marketing of movies about the Dalai Lama and Buddhism, such as Seven Years in Tibet and Kundun; and vilify and ban publicly pro-Tibetan actor advocates like Richard Gere and China critics like Brad Pitt, as well as Nomadland director Chloé Zhao. The author adds that China finagled a deal at the time of the Beijing Olympics to build a Disney theme park in China, while Hollywood, eager to please, filmed an appalling remake of Red Dawn to please China (“anticipatory censorship”), with North Korea as the villains. As Schwartzel demonstrates, China has the money to demand an entertainment business that will support its new political rise, and Hollywood, aware of the vast Chinese market, is not saying no.

Avid viewers will be surprised by this exposé of the seedy partnership between Hollywood and the Chinese government.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-984878-99-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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