Obama, Russian Bears, & Banking | Current Events Previews, Jan. 2017, Pt. 1

D’Antonio, Michael. A Consequential President: The Legacy of Barack Obama. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Jan. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781250081391. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781466893276. POLITICAL SCIENCE Part of a Newsday team that won a Pulitzer Prize, D’Antonio is the author of numerous books, dantoniomost recently Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success (which the New York Times called “admirably straightforward, evenhanded but nonetheless damning”). Here he offers an assessment of President Obama’s accomplishments, from righting the economy to redirecting foreign policy, delivered (interestingly) in response to criticism from the Left and not the Right. See also Jonathan Chait’s The Long Game: The Greatness of the Obama Presidency, previewed in Prepub Alert on May 16 as a November title and now rescheduled for January 2017. Dickey, Lisa. Bears in the Streets: Three Journeys Across a Changing Russia. St. Martin’s. Jan. 2017. 336p. ISBN 9781250092298. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250092304. TRAVEL Dickey is usually behind the scenes as a ghostwriter, having helped produce 17 nonfiction books, including eight New York Times best sellers. Here she’s front and center, reporting on her travels through Russia in 1995, 2005, and 2015, making friends that range from the caretakers of a Vladivostok lighthouse and members of Birobidzhan’s Jewish community to a group of gays in Novosibirsk and a Muscovite rap star. Swooping back periodically has given her a broad view of what Russians think about their country, and, yes, she speaks the language. Fleming, Melissa. A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival. Flatiron: Macmillan. Jan. 2017. 288p. ISBN 9781250105998. $25.99. SOCIAL SCIENCE Head of Communications and Chief Spokesperson for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Fleming tells the story of Doaa Zamel, a Syrian refugee who managed to survive the horrendous September 2014 Mediterranean shipwreck that claimed almost 500 lives. (She was left floating amid corpses while clinging to two children whose drowning parents had flemingshoved them toward her.) The 20-year-old Zamel won the 2016 OPEC Fund Annual Award for International Development for her determination to highlight the refugees’ plight by telling her story and is currently using her award to establish her own refugee fund. Ghobash, Omar Saif. Letters to a Young Muslim. Picador. Jan. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781250119841. $22; ebk. ISBN 9781250119834. RELIGION Born to an Arab father and a Russian mother in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and currently the UAE’s ambassador to Russia, Ghobash was only six when he lost his father to political violence in 1977. The escalating bloodshed he has seen since has compelled him to consider how moderate Muslims can find a way to be true to their faith while engaging in the modern world. As sponsor of the Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation and founder of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in collaboration with the Booker Prize in London, Ghobash will doubtless be articulate in his plea. With a national tour. Kwak, James. Economism: Bad Economics and the Rise of Inequality. Pantheon. Jan. 2017. 256p. ISBN 9781101871195. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101871201. Downloadable: Random Audio. ECONOMICS Coauthor of the New York Times best-selling 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown, Kwak shows how politicians, pundits, and more rely on an incomplete understanding of basic economic precepts in their discussion of key issues like labor markets, taxes, and health care, resulting in a distorted and simplistic understanding of the economic situation today. He calls this economism, and he traces how it’s been shaping our discourse for far too long. Servon, Lisa. The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives. Houghton Harcourt. Jan. 2017. 272p. ISBN 9780544602311. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780544611184. ECONOMICS Servon doesn’t just use her considerable smarts as professor of city and regional planning at the University of Pennsylvania to explain how banks have turned their backs on lower- and middle-class consumers in favor of the truly wealthy. To tell the story of the newly “unbanked,” she worked as a check-cashing and payday lender employee, and she recounts many survival stories from those living paycheck to paycheck on her Tumblr site, Money Stories.

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