PositiveThe Washington PostDoes the world really need another book about the opioid crisis?...The Hard Sell by Evan Hughes proves a worthy addition to the collection ... Hughes wisely avoids the ground covered by his predecessors ... isn’t so much a book about the opioid crisis as it is an in-depth look at an especially brazen company operating in the sometimes murky world of specialty pharmaceuticals ... Hughes captures the unsavory conversations that took place among low-level sales reps, marketing executives and other figures who dreamed up schemes to push Subsys, but he’s less rigorous about calling out the grownups who might have prevented Insys’s expansion. Who were the underwriters who took this obviously shifty company public? Who sat on the board of directors? And why, when presented with an overdue internal investigation of Insys practices, did the board and chief executive ignore recommendations to terminate bad actors?
PositiveThe Washington PostTooze briskly and expertly recounts the tense weeks in March 2020 when the Fed shored up the Treasury market with collateralized short-term loans, dropped interest rates to zero and announced backstops for commercial paper — promissory notes that companies issue to fund short-term obligations ... Tooze scarcely dives into any other health-related calamities or major financial scares. He dedicates just a few paragraphs to the flu pandemic of 1918...While there may be few lessons for central bankers or fiscal policymakers to learn from 1918, one would think that Tooze, a professor of history at Columbia University, would be well positioned to research and detail how politicians addressed the hardships brought on by the last pandemic or how some of the world’s most enduring corporations managed through it ... Tooze’s book offers readers a comprehensive and smartly written summary of the economic impact of the coronavirus. I marveled at how he included data points from Turkey, Trinidad and a range of small countries. I can see myself using this book as a reference guide, turning back to highlighted passages — and the extensive footnotes — to remind me of key moments and announcements in 2020 ... The biggest shortcoming of Shutdown is that historian Tooze’s subject is far from history. The book ends in May 2021, before global health organizations started warning about the rise of variants and breakthrough infections, and before companies pressed pause on ambitious return-to-work plans. Meanwhile, the new era of government spending championed by Tooze is hardly a fait accompli.
RaveThe Washington Post... a revelation. It showcases the range of Krugman’s intellect and his gift for clear, accessible writing. He neatly mixes pop cultural references and economic data ... But Krugman’s real superpower may be his longevity. He began contributing to the Times in 2000, and he has chronicled numerous economic policies and proposals that have been promoted or propped up by zombie claims ... Taken together, all these arguments with zombies reveal much about the electorate and the Republican Party of today ... Krugman doesn’t shy from calling out the mean-spiritedness that underlies much of the conservative agenda ... I would have loved more insight into his thinking on the flavor of free trade that has become commonplace among liberal elites in business, even as the rise of populists on the left and the right has exposed the shortcomings of globalization ... Krugman’s critics on the right will surely take issue with his writings on Trump’s economic policies by pointing to record-high stock prices and the 11-year expansion of the U.S. gross domestic product. But it is becoming increasingly difficult to quibble with Krugman’s underlying message that the current system is hurting the poor to the benefit of the rich and corporations.
Paul Volcker, Christine Harper
PositiveThe Washington Post\"This is not a barnburner; rather, as the name quietly implies, [Keeping At It] a measured, even-handed review of a career largely spent in public service, including two terms as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Anyone expecting an explicit and full-throated rebuke of current political leadership in Washington or of President Trump, who has repeatedly attacked the Fed, will be disappointed: Volcker’s memoir essentially ends in 2013, with the formation of the Volcker Alliance, a nonpartisan group that aims to improve the efficiency of government ... But make no mistake, Volcker has much to say, and the absence of bomb throwing gives his message added weight ... Keeping At It is by no means a breezy read, but it has its lighter moments ... At a time when Americans have become accustomed to incendiary tweets, hot takes and instant punditry, the author’s unhurried prose may seem quaint; the first half of the book can feel downright wonky. But by detailing his considerable work in the field, Volcker’s reproaches are that much more credible. He ultimately delivers a powerful message — readers just need to keep at it.\
PositiveThe Washington PostSmyth’s book is something of a revelation, even for readers who enjoy a steady diet of films on Turner Classic Movies. Scouring studio newsletters and company directories, she surfaces the names of women who held prominent positions in the film industry, including agents, writers and producers. Far from being a boy’s club, 1930s Hollywood was pretty inclusive; Smyth cites a 1934 report claiming that women made up 40 percent of the workforce at the large studios at the time ... Many women were put on blacklists like the one that kept [Mary] McCall from working in film, though the author doesn’t provide much evidence that conservative groups disproportionately targeted women ... Smyth makes a more compelling case that female executives simply have been written out of the lore of the golden age of Hollywood ... In their zeal to call out sexism, feminists may have inadvertently helped erase women from the history books.
PanThe Washington PostIt is telling that one of the most prominent and memorable figures in Ken Auletta’s new book...is Don Draper, the fictional executive at the center of the celebrated television series Mad Men The real-life advertising and marketing executives Auletta quotes in Frenemies talk about Draper like he’s an actual person ... Auletta’s book, completed before Facebook admitted that consulting firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to data on 87 million users, doesn’t go nearly deep enough into privacy concerns, despite an entire chapter titled \'The Privacy Time Bomb.\' He unquestioningly quotes Ricky Van Veen of Facebook as saying \'privacy is overrated\' and bolsters that view with anecdotes about how teens and college kids love to share intimate details on social media ... The lack of a modern-day Draper makes Frenemies a bit of a slog for the general-interest reader ... Frenemies never successfully makes the case that the advertising industry, despite its massive size, is as important or innovative or influential as cable news or Google.
Diana B. Henriques
PositiveThe Washington PostIgnoring the events of 30 years ago, and the factors that led to that crash, is a terrible mistake, Diana B. Henriques argues in her meticulously researched new book. The conditions that preceded the market meltdown — new and complex financial instruments, technology-powered trading, the rise of powerful institutional investors, squabbling government agencies, and deregulatory zeal — haven’t gone away. In fact, they’ve grown more pronounced … Henriques invested considerable time in research and interviews for the book, and she has nearly 100 pages of footnotes to prove it. Occasionally she will trot out an anecdote or scene to underscore the depth of her reporting … Henriques has produced a first-class cautionary tale that should be on every financial regulator’s and policymaker’s desk — and many an investor’s, too.
MixedThe Washington Post...a comprehensive, data- and research-driven look at the trends and anxieties that led so many young people to zealously support Sen. Bernie Sanders’s quixotic bid for the Democratic nomination … Harris sets out to dispel much of the conventional wisdom about his peers — that they’re entitled, tech-addicted and in need of constant validation — using a novel approach. He analyzes millennials through the lens of ‘human capital’ … In his keenness to knock down every unfair generalization about his generation, Harris peppers his book with straw-man arguments, some so absurd that they distract from the potency of his message … All these quibbles — and I realize the critiques make me sound like a grumpy old Gen Xer — might be excused if Harris offered ideas for how millennials and future generations could band together to restore upward mobility. Instead, he practically shrugs in the concluding chapter.