NEANDERTHALS AT WORK

HOW PEOPLE AND POLITICS CAN DRIVE YOU CRAZY...AND WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT THEM

Bernstein and Rozen advance from their popular self-helper, Dinosaur Brains (1989), and the result is an avuncular, honest guide through the workplace. For some, corporate life is an involving challenge; for many others, it's a series of enervating insults. The authors have figured out why and, for those among the offended, what might be done to improve things. They divide all the gall producers into three models. There are the ``Rebels,'' cool and above the rules- -and never progressing. There are the ``Believers,'' highly motivated and devoted to all the rules—and never progressing. Then there are the ``Competitors,'' the warrior caste who can never be less than number one: ``It's against their religion,'' we are told. They are always progressing. (The authors never hint that there may be a fourth type. But, then, simple, incompetent Dorks don't want to be called that when they buy books, do they?) Each of the three archetypes is driven crazy by the others. And each is competent, of course, but just doesn't understand what makes the others go. With the accustomed paraphernalia of such manuals—pep talks, quizzes, and little morality plays—anxious readers will learn to identify themselves, those who work for them, and, most importantly, those who hold them in their power. Suggestions for coping are set forth. The repertory troupe of fictional characters (including one tyrant called ``Bronson'') may be onstage a bit too long, but they may also strike a familiar chord or two. Business myths are dismantled. The Bottom Line, no myth, is where it's at—where all the Competitors meet. And anyone can join them there. Just forget the need for praise and the fear of failure. Learn the unspoken rules and the corporate rituals. Here's the way the business world works, described in a superior self-helper that actually gets down to business.

Pub Date: April 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-471-52727-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wiley

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1992

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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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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