A good, balanced book on the Philippines since the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s is much needed. Unfortunately this is not it. A journalist, Kirk describes a nation adrift. He writes with passion and indignation about rising poverty, joblessness, child labor, crime, and corruption, and the plunder of the state by powerful oligarchic interests. But surely there is another side to the story. The Philippines has experienced high growth rates in recent years, democracy has been restored, and there are numerous signs of change. According to the World Bank, the index of income inequality in the Philippines is lower, and the literacy rate higher, than in Malaysia. And the Philippines now has a per capita income of close to $3,000 in terms of purchasing power. No doubt the Philippines still suffers from many of the problems Kirk describes, but this book focuses only on the seamy side of the story.