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Reviewing the Reviews

Sept. 28 - 29.

Publication: New York Times

Cover: "Stanley, I Presume?"

Other Reviews & News of Note: I was struck by reading the first passage shortly after reading the second.

1. "The Shock Doctrine is [Naomi] Klein's ambitious look at the economic history of the last 50 years and the rise of free-market fundamentalism around the world. 'Disaster capitalism,' as she calls it, is a violent system that sometimes requires terror to do its job."

2. "In the evenings, unexpected sights appear in this city, which less than two years ago seemed beyond saving and repair.

"Women stroll on sidewalks that did not exist last year. Teenagers cluster under newly installed street lights, chatting on cellphones. At a street corner, young men gather to race cars on a freshly paved road - a scene, considering that this is the capital of Chechnya, that feels out of place and from another time.

"Throughout the city, local officials, most of them former rebels who waged a nationalist Islamic insurgency against Russia, lounge in cafes, assault rifles idled beside them.

"Three years after a wave of guerrilla and terrorist attacks caused many analysts to say that Russia's war against Chechen separatists could not be won, the republic has fallen almost fully under the control of the Kremlin and its indigenous proxies, led by Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the Chechen president.

"Mr. Kadyrov's human rights record is chilling, and allegations of his government's patterns of brutality and impunity are widespread. Yet even his most severe critics say he has developed significant popular support, in part because of the clear changes that have accompanied his firm and fearsome rule.

"Fighting has been sporadic and small in scale for a second year. A large rebel offensive did not materialize this summer, as the separatists had predicted. Buoyed by a sustained lull in fighting and flush with cash, Mr. Kadyrov's government has rebuilt most of its capital and outlying areas.

"Like Stalingrad after World War II, Grozny, the Chechen capital, has reappeared from the rubble. It has done so more swiftly than European cities revived by the Marshall Plan."

Also: "Some critics will no doubt dismiss How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else as promotional pap masquerading as a memoir," Neil Genzlinger writes. "This critic, though, views it as one of the most scathing indictments of the advertising business to appear in a long time."


"[Michael Gates] Gill, with the grating babe-in-the-woods persona he adopts in this book, would have us believe that top advertising executives like him have no idea that there are black people in the world and that some of them run small businesses; that every weekday thousands of people gather at places like Grand Central Terminal for a ritual known as rush hour; that an overwhelming majority of lives are lived in the service of train schedules and bill collectors."

It gets worse.

"Gill staring in wonder as commuters commute or a co-worker shows him how to fill a mop bucket; Gill abjectly apologizing for ignoring the poor, the working class, his children, his own racism and classicism for all those years; Gill praising Starbucks, the world's greatest company (it offers health insurance!); Gill dropping famous names from his past. None of it rings true; all of it feels manipulative. Could it be that Gill, having coasted on his family name for years, looked around for another set of coattails and saw one with a Starbucks logo?"

My guess is he decided to take a job at Starbucks in order to write a book.

"If so, the strategy seems to have worked. Tom Hanks, apparently like Gill not realizing that Starbucks is more punch line than hot brand these days, has already grabbed the movie rights."

As Keith Olbermann would say, Michael Gates Gill, you are today's Worst Person in the World.


Publication: Sun-Times

Cover: "Femme Fatales"

Other Reviews & News of Note: Books editor Teresa Budasi also takes on Gill's Starbucks book, noting that the author still works for the coffee company with no plans to quit despite the movie deal. Maybe so, but he'll be taking a really, really, really, really, really, really long leave.


Publication: Tribune

Cover: "The Forgotten War." Is the Trib the last book review in the country getting to this?

Other Reviews & News of Note: No.



1. Laura Ingraham
2. Bill Clinton
3. O.J. Simpson

Tony Dungy is 4th; Mother Teresa is 5th; Navy Seal is 6th; Alan Alda is 8th; Anna Nicole Smith is 9th; George W. Bush is 10th; Pattie Boyd is 12th; Alan Jackson's wife is 13th; Jack Cafferty is 14th; the un-great God is 16th.


Posted on October 3, 2007

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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