New York Times Review
WINNERS TAKE ALL: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, by Anand Giridharadas. (Knopf, $26.95.) Giridharadas examines the worlds of Davos and Aspen, where an elite intent on "changing the world" hang out, emerging with a quietly scathing report on how little they actually do to make a difference when it comes to the big structural problems. They are instead the enablers of the rich and powerful. NINETY-NINE GLIMPSES OF PRINCESS MARGARET, by Craig Brown. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $28.) A sometimes fanciful, always gossipy portrait of Queen Elizabeth's younger sister, who loved to appear rebellious and bohemian but was also intensely devoted to the privileges that accompanied royal life. THE HUSBAND HUNTERS: American Heiresses Who Married Into the British Aristocracy, by Anne de Courcy. (St. Martin's, $27.99.) A glittering account of the Gilded Age-era young women whose fortunes rescued some of England's penurious peers. THE FIGHTERS: Americans in Combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, by C.J. Chivers. (Simon & Schuster, $28.) In Chivers's powerful narrative of America's recent wars, soldiers who began their military service in a blaze of patriotism after 9/11 end up cynical, betrayed and often disfigured or dead. THE TRAITOR'S NICHE, by Ismail Kadare. (Counterpoint, $25.) The quest for a rebel pasha's severed head becomes a grimly comic comment in John Hodgson's translation of this brilliant and laconic 1978 Albanian novel, an allegorical fable about 20th-century authoritarianism. IF YOU SEE ME, DON'T SAY HI, by Neel Patel. (Flatiron, $24.99.) The Indian-Americans in this debut story collection are less troubled by cultural clashes than they are by the unraveling of emotions. As friendships fester, marriages combust and families fall into civilized distemper, all the ties in Patel's world unravel according to their own precise logic: none at all. FLY GIRLS, by Keith O'Brien. (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $28.) The title honors the female aviators who were hindered by the deep gender inequities of the golden age of flying. These are women few of us have heard of before; as O'Brien explains of their forgotten histories, each woman "went missing in her own way." I WILL BE COMPLETE, by Glen David Gold. (Knopf, $29.95.) In Gold's ambitious and brave memoir (which takes us only to his early 30s), just about all of the unanticipated ramifications emanate from his complex, mysterious and manipulative mother. MIRROR, SHOULDER, SIGNAL, by Dorthe Nors. (Graywolf, paper, $16.) In her sparkling novel - shortlisted for the International Man Booker - Nors trains her gaze on a woman many people would look past, a middle-aged translator learning to drive. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web:
Publishers Weekly Review
In this provocative and passionate look at philanthropy, capitalism, and inequality, Giridharadas (The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas) criticizes market-based solutions to inequality devised by rich American do-gooders as ultimately counterproductive and self-serving. Giridharadas insists that "the idea that after-the-fact benevolence justifies anything-goes capitalism" is no excuse for "avoiding the necessity of a more just and equitable system and a fairer distribution of power." He turns a gimlet eye on philanthropists who make the money they donate by underpaying employees; luxurious philanthropy getaways that focus more on making attendees feel good about themselves than on creating profound change; and tech companies such as Uber, which promises to empower the poor with earning opportunities, but has been accused of exploiting its workers. Giridharadas calls out billionaire venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar, who opines that "sharing is caring" but refers to labor unions as "cartels," and profiles Darren Walker, who came from modest beginnings to end up president of the Ford Foundation, where his entreaties to philanthropists to acknowledge structural inequality fall mostly on deaf ears. In the end, Giridharadas believes only democratic solutions can address problems of inequality. This damning portrait of contemporary American philanthropy is a must-read for anyone interested in "changing the world." (Aug.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.