In this powerful, necessary book, Schwarz exposes the dirty secrets of the growing ADHD epidemic.

A troubling look at the systemic overdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a chilling analysis of the effect ADHD medications have on patients, especially children.

New York Times investigative reporter Schwarz (Once Upon a Game: Baseball's Greatest Memories, 2007, etc.) begins this hard-hitting book by making sure readers understand that, despite the prevalence of false diagnoses, ADHD is a legitimate condition that affects some children and adults; in these cases, appropriately prescribed medication may work wonders. However—a very significant however—in the 50 years since ADHD was clinically defined, it “has become, by far, the most misdiagnosed condition in American medicine.” Stunningly, in some states, 30 percent of school-age boys are diagnosed, the majority of whom are put on powerful stimulants such as Ritalin or Adderall. While the intentions of the prescribing doctors may have some merit, the fact remains that physicians and pharmaceutical companies alike assure parents that ADHD drugs are “safer than aspirin.” The author pulls no punches in his in-depth portrayal of this falsehood and the prevalence of the drugs in schools and colleges across the nation. Adolescents routinely and casually abuse stimulants to such an extent that school officials often shrug their shoulders at the problem rather than instituting rules to protect students. Worse, Schwarz describes how doctors misconstrue the dangerous side effects of stimulants as evidence of other maladies and prescribe additional drugs such as anti-anxiety medication. Tragically, many kids become quickly addicted and fall into a downward spiral they are helpless to prevent. The author, while vehement in his arguments, is no alarmist; his facts are meticulously sourced, and he relies on numerous first-person narratives from patients, parents, doctors, and pharma reps to make his argument. In no uncertain terms, he states that without immediate action to reassess the status quo, countless patients may face dire consequences.

In this powerful, necessary book, Schwarz exposes the dirty secrets of the growing ADHD epidemic.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1501105913

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016



If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998


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

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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

Close Quickview