Archive for the ‘Book and Web Site Reviews’ Category.

Rise of the Warrior Cop – What could go wrong?

It’s critical to appreciate the history of policing, to understand that what we now see as normal and inescapable wasn’t always the case. For most of our history, this country did not have a group of people with shields and guns who wandered the streets ordering people about. The fall from grace, If you perceive it as I do, came fast and hard.

American attitudes toward police were built on images of Andy Griffith, strolling the streets of Mayberry to save random cats and, an allusion Radley employs, serving as guest umpire in the occasional baseball game. Good. Honest, One of us. This was the police officer upon whom we relied, and the one we pictured as we told our children that they were here to help us; they were our friend.
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The book contains required caveat number 3, mentioned numerous times that this is not an anti-cop book. And indeed, Radley pays homage to those within law enforcement who recognized the developing schism between police and the public that would lead us to blur the line between soldier fighting a foreign enemy on the battlefield and police fighting a domestic enemy on the streets of America, using the same clothing, weapons and attitudes.

Book Review: Radley Balko’s Rise of the Warrior Cop

Radley Balko’s column

Rise Of The Warrior Cop

There’s certainly a lot of overlap between the war on drugs and police militarization. But if we go back to the late 1960s and early 1970s, there were two trends developing simultaneously. The first was the development and spread of SWAT teams. Darryl Gates started the first SWAT team in L.A. in 1969. By 1975, there were 500 of them across the country. They were largely a reaction to riots, violent protest groups like the Black Panthers and Symbionese Liberation Army, and a couple mass shooting incidents, like the Texas clock tower massacre in 1966.

At the same time, Nixon was declaring an “all-out war on drugs.” He was pushing policies like the no-knock raid, dehumanizing drug users and dealers, and sending federal agents to storm private homes on raids that were really more about headlines and photo-ops than diminishing the supply of illicit drugs.

But for the first decade or so after Gates invented them, SWAT teams were largely only used in emergency situations. There usually needed to be an immediate, deadly threat to send the SWAT guys. It wasn’t until the early 1980s under Reagan that the two trends converged, and we started to see SWAT teams used on an almost daily basis — mostly to serve drug warrants.

How Cops Became Soldiers: An Interview with Police Militarization Expert Radley Balko


Unfortunately, it seems that the future Aldous Huxley predicted in 1932, in Brave New World, is arriving early. Mockery, truculence, and minimalist living are best, then enjoy the decline. However, we do need a Revolving Door Tax (RDT), learn what Members of Congress pay in taxes, and prosecute politicians and staff and their “family and friends” who profit from insider trading.

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Robust Political Economy vs. Market Failure Economics

Mark Pennington on Robust Political Economy vs. Market Failure Economics

Robust Political Economy: Classical Liberalism and the Future of Public Policy,” a review by Donald J. Boudreaux

Buy book here


A “sad story with a happy ending”

“Congress is a busy place and very little happens by accident. The [Chinese-American] community acted, organized and Congress looked at it, and was willing to act. It is a sad story with a happy ending, but nobody would bother to tell the story if it didn’t matter to the community itself.”

Act of honor,” by Tan Yingzi, China Daily, June 20, 2012

Cover of "Forbidden Citizens," by Martin B. Gold

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More praise for “Forbidden Citizens” – from Library Journal

Gold, Martin B. Forbidden Citizens: Chinese Exclusion and the U.S. Congress: A Legislative History. 2012. c.550p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781587332357. $29.95. REF

“This landmark volume on the subject of exclusionary policies against Chinese and Chinese Americans is the culmination of lengthy research conducted while attorney Gold (Senate Procedure and Practice) represented a number of Chinese American groups. Divided into 11 chronologically ordered chapters, the book opens with an exploration of initial Senate debates over exclusionary measures and concludes with details on the repeal of such legislation. Congressional member quotations illuminate period sentiment. An appendix offers primary-source texts, document facsimiles, and discussion questions, and this makes for a valuable teaching tool.

VERDICT Expanding on the views in Erika Lee’s At America’s Gates (2007), this is an exemplary subject reference.”

Library Journal, July 2012

Cover of "Forbidden Citizens," by Martin B. Gold

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“Why American Food Used to Be So Bad and Other Lessons From Tyler Cowen”

For the past four years, I’ve been ordering the most unappatizing sounding item on the menu when I eat at nice restaurants. This counterintuitive advice from Tyler Cowen’s 2007 book Discover Your Inner Economist has worked surprisingly well. Cowen’s newest book, An Economist Gets Lunch, is a combination of practical eating advice like this, and also a history, economics, and science book about food. If there is one overarching lesson it is that looking at food through the framework of supply and demand can help you both understand our food system better, and also help you be a smarter consumer and get more out of every meal.

An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies

But Cowen is not an apologist, and he doesn’t argue that we can just deregulate our way to a better food system. In fact he has many words of support for policies and values often supported by progressives. To help improve both the long-term budget gap and the growing environmental problem, he advocates ending subsidies for big agriculture, and argues for a carbon tax. In addition, he believes that meat should be “taxed” for environmental reasons, and that one easy way to do this is to enforce more strict animal welfare laws.

Why American Food Used to Be So Bad and Other Lessons From Tyler Cowen,” by Adam Ozimek, The Atlantic, April 12, 2012


More at Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide.


In 2008 I got a book advance of $200,000, of which my agent took 15% and the IRS took approximately one-fourth. Still, that’s a lot of money, even paid out in quarters over the course of several years, and for a few months after I got that initial check–for the first time in my adult life–I mistakenly assumed that I didn’t have to keep track of how much money I was spending. Because surely this good fortune was the beginning of more good fortune to come!

There would be foreign rights sales, audio rights sales, fat old-school magazine payments for first serial rights when the book came out, maybe a film or TV option — not to mention all the paid teaching and speaking opportunities that having written the kind of book that a publisher would pay a six-figure advance for would undoubtedly bring my way. And then, too, there would be another payment of the same amount or more money for another book, a book I couldn’t quite imagine and hadn’t even started writing, but would definitely be able to write in a year or less after the first book came out because what was I, lazy? No, I was quick, quick like a blogger!

Without whining or belaboring, I will just say briefly that precisely zero of these rosy fantasies came to fruition.

It Was Here And Then It Was Gone: More Than $1K Worth of Clothes I’ll Never Wear Again,” by Emily Gould, The Billfold, April 10, 2012

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How to Fix a Broken Congress: A Radical Workable Guide, A New Book from Two Seas Media and TheCapitol.Net

ALEXANDRIA, VA – Irrespective of which party controls the majority, existing congressional practices will A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results: A Modest Proposal - Citizen's Guide to Legislative Reform, by Joseph Gibson remain in place. Without significant change to those practices, they will produce the same old results. Those same old results have driven the country into a dire situation. It is time to correct for this. It is time — and it is possible — to turn things around. Congress needs to reform its own ways of doing business.

Joseph Gibson’s newest book, A Better Congress: Change the Rules, Change the Results, proposes a completely new approach to running Congress. Call it a radical return to basics. Radical? Yes, but doable. Gibson, a congressional insider, knows what can be accomplished. He also knows how to make it happen.

A few of his radical, yet workable ideas:

  • Limit the number of bills members can introduce, limit the number of pages per bill, and require each member who votes to read the bill.
  • Ban fundraising when Congress is in session.
  • Make serving in Congress a part time job with the expectation that members would hold other full time jobs.
  • Allow the minority party to control some part of the agenda.

In Gibson’s view, the reforms in his book would lessen the partisan divide, limit the time wasted on frivolous legislation, keep the members focused on wise policymaking rather than simply winning elections, and increase the pool of worthy candidates who will actually run for office.

Gibson has served as House Judiciary Committee chief minority counsel, chief legislative counsel, chief antitrust counsel, parliamentarian—and Chief of Staff to a prominent Texas Congressman. He is also the author of Persuading Congress: A Practical Guide to Parlaying an Understanding of Congressional Folkways and Dynamics into Successful Advocacy on Capitol Hill, published earlier this year by TheCapitol.Net.

Two Seas Media and TheCapitol.Net are privately held, non-partisan publishing and training companies based in Alexandria, VA. For over 30 years, TheCapitol.Net and its predecessor, Congressional Quarterly Executive Conferences, have been training professionals from government, military, business, and NGOs on the dynamics and operations of the legislative and executive branches and how to work with them.

Journalists: To request interviews, contact Sandy Trupp at Planned Television Arts, or 202-974-5002. To request review copies, contact the publisher: or 703-739-3790, ext. 0.

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Coney Island

Professor Solomon’s book, Coney Island, is a “history and profile of the amusement area (which is about to be leveled for condos and such).”
Prof. Solomon’s book is available as a free PDF download.

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“Swallowing Clouds,” by A. Zee

A playful journey through Chinese culture, language, and cuisine … In “Swallowing Clouds”, A. Zee

invites us to a veritable Chinese banquet full of charming explorations of food, language, and culture. Beginning with simple dishes from a typical restaurant menu, Zee launches into an engrossing voyage of discoveries about Chinese language and cuisine. With folklore and anecdotes, he uncovers the roots of Chinese characters in ancient pictographs, giving an absorbing and effortless introduction to written Chinese.

… why eating “won-tons” is like swallowing clouds … he traces the origin and legend of the dish “Ma Po To Fu” pages 174-179 … you will be able to recognize the Chinese characters on menus … did you know that red hot peppers were imported by the Portuguese from Central America to Sichuan, China! Ay caramba …

Also see “eating in chinese” for a good overview of Chinese characters on menus and restaurants

Most popular books with AGINY readers

These are the books most popular with AGINY readers.

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Eat at the best restaurants – without a reservation

Jill Conner and Barbara Peters have written a very handy guide to eating at the best restaurants … without a reservation … @ the bar: NYC Bar Dining Guide is a pocket guide to 30 of NYC’s best restaurants that offer bar dining … and at many restaurants, the menu is less expensive when eating at the bar …
@ the bar: NYC Bar Dining Guide is an excellent guide for anyone looking for a great place to enjoy fine diningRecommended … see sample pages at their web site
good restaurants for fine dining at the bar include Davidburke & Donatella … a great bar to dine and enjoy the atmosphere … (web site), 133 East 61st Street, bewteen Park and Lexington, 212-813-2121 [MenuPages | Openlist | NYT | Gayot | Citysearch]
Also, Circus, a fine Brazilian bistro on 61st Street between Park & Lexington Avenues, especially in the evening … (previous reviews: A Guy In New York, Forbes (TWIR, September 30, 2005)) … web site, 132 East 61st Street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, 212-223-2566 [MenuPages | NY Metro | NYT | Citysearch]