An intriguing consideration of this bewildering “liminal in-between time in the history of work.”

THE NOWHERE OFFICE

REINVENTING WORK AND THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE

An entrepreneur and business consultant shows how the world of work is being remade—and so rapidly that in some respects it’s unrecognizable.

Even before the pandemic, Hobsbawm observes, transformational shifts were occurring in three areas that had implications for intellectual and office work: politics, “specifically the issues of inequality and sustainability”; society, with the largest cohort of workers being Generation Z but mingling generations on either side; and technology, with a shift to what’s called the metaverse, “where virtual reality becomes far more real in our lives than we ever thought possible.” The pandemic accelerated the recognition that people didn’t need to work in an office on a regular schedule, and that in turn sped up the “increasing backlash against work”—work, that is, that did not have a clear purpose and wasn’t life-enhancing in some way. As Hobsbawm observes, such work is generally simple, at least in its conception: We’re going to fix this problem; we’re going to build this. Yet offices have grown complex, mostly due to the proliferation of complexity-making middle managers who aren’t needed in a world of remote work, wherein “much management energy will need to go into fresh challenges: scheduling hybrid working, reframing the measuring of performance.” In this matter, writes the author, corporations must reframe both their approaches to human resources, returning the “human” to the equation, and their relationships with their employee: “The onus should be less on the employee having their performance evaluated and more about the organization being asked: how are we performing for you?” There may be institutional resistance to such changes, but, Hobsbawm warns, the genie is out of the bottle. Those Gen Z and millennial workers simply aren’t going to show up to places that treat them like cogs in an outdated machine.

An intriguing consideration of this bewildering “liminal in-between time in the history of work.”

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-541-70193-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

THE WAR ON THE WEST

A British journalist fulminates against Black Lives Matter, critical race theory, and other threats to White privilege.

“There is an assault going on against everything to do with the Western world—its past, present, and future.” So writes Spectator associate editor Murray, whose previous books have sounded warnings against the presumed dangers of Islam and of non-Western immigration to the West. As the author argues, Westerners are supposed to take in refugees from Africa, Asia, and Latin America while being “expected to abolish themselves.” Murray soon arrives at a crux: “Historically the citizens of Europe and their offspring societies in the Americas and Australasia have been white,” he writes, while the present is bringing all sorts of people who aren’t White into the social contract. The author also takes on the well-worn subject of campus “wokeness,” a topic of considerable discussion by professors who question whether things have gone a bit too far; indeed, the campus is the locus for much of the anti-Western sentiment that Murray condemns. The author’s arguments against reparations for past damages inflicted by institutionalized slavery are particularly glib. “It comes down to people who look like the people to whom a wrong was done in history receiving money from people who look like the people who may have done the wrong,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine anything more likely to rip apart a society than attempting a wealth transfer based on this principle.” Murray does attempt to negotiate some divides reasonably, arguing against “exclusionary lines” and for Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s call for a more vigorous and welcoming civil culture. Too often, however, the author falters, as when he derides Gen. Mark Milley for saying, “I want to understand white rage. And I’m white”—perhaps forgetting the climacteric White rage that Milley monitored on January 6, 2021.

A scattershot exercise in preaching to the choir.

Pub Date: April 26, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-316202-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Broadside Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 5, 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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