An important book, though a rather flawed one. Though she takes pains time and time again not to, in the end she comes off as presumptuous and patroni...moreAn important book, though a rather flawed one. Though she takes pains time and time again not to, in the end she comes off as presumptuous and patronizing. I also could have done with a little more hard data and a little less sanctimonious moralizing knitting together her anecdotes. That said, there are a lot of good little looks into the lives of the working poor, and this should be a must-read for people who take pains to isolate themselves from them, while also passing judgement on their lives.(less)
I assumed that this book would mostly solidify inklings of ideas and opinions I already had, but it did a lot more than that. A very thorough and conv...moreI assumed that this book would mostly solidify inklings of ideas and opinions I already had, but it did a lot more than that. A very thorough and convincing portrait of a world headed for a new class crisis, coupled with a crisis for the freedom of expression, and perhaps democracy itself.(less)
The book to read if you want to know about how and why corporate media consolidation happened, and what deleterious effects this process has had on de...moreThe book to read if you want to know about how and why corporate media consolidation happened, and what deleterious effects this process has had on democracy and public discourse here and abroad. This is solid left-centrist scholarship with no radical Chomsky-esque tendendtiousness or axes to grind.(less)
This book addresses globalization almost exclusively from an economic standpoint. Viewed within those bounds, it seems pretty good, though I had a har...moreThis book addresses globalization almost exclusively from an economic standpoint. Viewed within those bounds, it seems pretty good, though I had a hard time telling how much to take at face value since I didn’t feel like I had enough of a grasp of macroeconomics, trade, and finance to really engage and argue with it. He seemed to be making every effort to be even-handed, in that sober British-empiricist sort of way, but it’s hard to tell if that’s genuine or just a rhetorical strategy.
But, I’ve also not had much doubt that globalization has been an economic boon, if a somewhat fraught and unstable one, for most people and countries involved, or that the lack of integration with global markets is what’s really killing the poorest of the poor countries, which is the best and most compelling argument he makes. The problem is that he refuses to engage the argument that there might be other values that aren’t strictly economic but are nonetheless requirements for human health and happiness. Economic growth is of course incredibly important, but it’s necessary-but-not-sufficient, and economists can never seem to grasp that simple fact. He also blatantly caricatures those who would make arguments against a solely economic valuation of human happiness, almost always picking his putative opponents from the dumbest and most flamboyant 5% of people who question the costs of globalization, etc. The old “dirty hippies” kneejerk thing, which I would have thought he was above based on the soberness of much of his argument. Whenever he argues against fellow economists, he’s always evenhanded and fair, but anytime a non-economic concern comes up, he quickly gets dismissive and petulant.
So, if you want a look at globalization as an economic phenomenon from a market fundamentalist who at least seems fairly even-handed and willing to acknowledge and critique the errors and injustices that have happened in a strictly economic context, this is your book. If you want a broad-based argument for or critical examination of globalization that really addresses environmental, social, cultural, and the myriad other associated concerns, you’ll have to look elsewhere. Definitely worth reading as part of a broad survey, which is sort of what I’m gradually doing on the topic, but I wouldn’t read it as a sole source.(less)