PositiveThe BafflerMean Girl is not a traditional biography. It’s not even a traditional history of libertarianism. And this is exactly what makes it a fascinatingly odd book, odd in the good way of not being easily categorized. This is a short, punchy, focused cultural studies look at Rand and the world she helped create. It is also a politically tinged book, in that its hope is that upon understanding the cultural landscape of the Randian world, we might be in a better position to resist it ... The power of Duggan’s book seems that maybe in unmasking Rand’s philosophical legitimacy and hold on the right removes a central prop and leaves the right ever more naked. She closes her book with a timely injunction: \'Reject Ayn Rand. After all, she rejects you.\'
PanThe BafflerThat [Cass] and others see a problem and identify workers as now centrally important to Republicans’ future is significant. Cass wants to move beyond identifying and channeling their anger and seeks instead to present public policy that can address the issues workers face. But let’s be clear, this isn’t really a book about \'workers,\' it is a book about labor markets and (abstractly, theoretically) those who work. Like many books trying to explain how we got to the age of Trump, Cass seeks a usable past, and as such romanticizes a golden age that never was ... One of the problems with Cass’s argument is that he never fully or adequately defines families or community, but one assumes he means them in their traditional and historical form—with all the identitarian limitations and exclusions that come to mind ... Cass presents us with a book that demonstrates a renewed interest in work from conservatives. It demonstrates how they are stumbling for a set of policies that address the pain working-class communities have endured, without recognizing their culpability in policies that destroyed unions and safety nets. Maybe simply recognizing that the pain is real and that current Republicans have too long ignored the problem is the first step?