Not without biases, but a smart and engaging look at the workings of the economic machine under various regimes,...

CAPITALISM IN AMERICA

A HISTORY

Everyone’s favorite Randian economist explains the rise of American economic supremacy and worries for its passing.

Former Federal Reserve chair Greenspan (The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting, 2013, etc.) teams up with Economist political editor Wooldridge (co-author: The Fourth Revolution: The Global Race to Reinvent the State, 2014, etc.) to chronicle the emergence of the United States from economic backwater to powerhouse, with its 5 percent of the world’s population accounting for 25 percent of its GDP. By the authors’ account, this rise has several key components, including diversity, equal opportunity to enter a marketplace with few barriers to entry, and an openness to contribution from just about everyone—the farmer’s son Henry Ford, for instance, who toured the great slaughterhouses of Chicago and marveled at the carcasses moving through the saws and trimmers: “It was during a visit to one of these abattoirs that Henry Ford got the idea of the mass assembly line.” Though of a libertarian bent, Greenspan and Wooldridge seemingly approve of public goods in the form of education, which, among other things, has long allowed the U.S. to be a “talent magnet” for entrepreneurially minded immigrants; now, events inspire them to decry “the current rise of nativism and populism.” Rather more predictably, the authors lament the rise of regulation. “In the 1930s," they write, “Americans turned to government to save them from the instability of the market. In the 1980s, they turned to entrepreneurs to save them from the suffocation of government." The current regulation-heavy environment, coupled with lack of innovation and misguided efforts to place barriers on free trade, may lead to the emergence of rivals better attuned to the global market. Meanwhile, the authors foresee the beginnings of stagflation and the eventual economic decline of the once peerless U.S. market.

Not without biases, but a smart and engaging look at the workings of the economic machine under various regimes, isolationist and internationalist alike.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-2244-1

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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