Never Let a Serious Crisis Go To Waste -- How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski, Verso '13, $29.95, ASIN #1781680795. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
White House phrasemaker and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel lent President Obama one of his many memorable sayings in 2009: "Never let a good crisis go to waste," in reflecting on the causes of the Great Recession. In turn, the President lent it to economist/historian Philip Mirowski to title his new book on the complexities of the 2008 American financial apocalypse.
Mirowski's focus is on how the original plethora of economic and social factors metastatized into a debt crisis few could have foreseen. From his dust jacket:
"At the onset of the Great Recession, as house prices sank and joblessness soared, many commentators concluded that the economic convictions behind the disaster would now be consigned to history. And yet, in the harsh light of a new day, we've awoken to a second nightmark more costly than the first: a political class still blaming government intervention, a global drive for austerity, stagflation, and an international sovereign debt crisis.
"Philip Mirowski finds an apt comparison to this situation in classic studies of cognitive dissonance. He concludes that neoliberal thought has become so pervasive that any countervailing evidence serves only to further convince disciples of its ultimate truth."
Philip Mirowski holds the Carl Koch Chair of Economics and the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He has written many previous books.
The XX Factor -- How the Rise of Working Women Has Created a Far Less Equal World by Alison Wolf, Crown '13, $26, 393 pages, ASIN #0307590402. Index, bibliography, notes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
Today's women "are working longer hours, marrying and starting families later, or, if they so wish, focusing on their careers to the exclusion of marriage, and they are earning on a par with men," writes scholar Alison Wolf. "But that is just some of them. And as they draw away from the pack, they leave a very different female world behind."
In her book, Wolf explores why and how women, in less than three generations, have come so far in closing the wage gap with men; and why these gains haven't expanded to elevate the circumstances of women who don't have a corner office or a voice in boardroom meetings."
To support her thesis, Wolf comes up with findings that are likely to stoke the fires of cocktail parties in the months ahead, such as:
*The single best predictor of a woman's future workplace success is staying a virgin until college.
*Contrary to popular belief, it's not stay-at-home mothers and fathers who spend the most time with their kids, but families of two married graduate professionals, the same people who work the longest hours.
*One of the biggest unintended consequences of women's rise in the workplace in the United States and Europe is the shrinking of charity and philanthropy.
*Elite women are less likely to divorce than other women.
Author Alison Wolf is an academic and writer living in London and advises the UK government on education policy.
Churchill's Bomb -- How the United States Overtook Britain in the First Nuclear Arms Race by Graham Farmelo, BasicBooks '13, $29.99, 554 pages, ASIN #0465021956. Index, notes, references, unillustrated.
From the dust cover:
"Perhaps no scientific development has shaped the course of modern history as much as the harnessing of nuclear energy. Yet the 20th century might have turned out differently had greater influence over the technology been exercised by Great Britain, whose scientists were at the forefront of research into nuclear weapons at the beginning of World War II.
"As award-winning biographer and science writer Graham Farmelo describes in Churchill's Bomb, the British set out of investigate the possibility of building nuclear weapons before their American colleagues. But when scientists in Britain first discovered a way to build an atomic bomb, Prime Minister Winston Churchill did not make the most of his country's lead and was slow to realize the Bomb's strategic implications."
Author Graham Farmelo is a by-fellow at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, and an adjunct professor of physics at Northeastern University. He lives in London.