TUPPERWARE

THE PROMISE OF PLASTIC IN 1950S AMERICA

A dense, meticulously researched cultural history of Tupperware that attempts to understand the process by which objects of mass consumption are appropriated as meaningful artifacts of everyday life. Clarke begins with the premise that Tupperware has indeed become a cultural symbol for the American way of life (circa 1950) and that worldwide sales of $1.2 billion in 1997 are a strong indicator of the appeal of that symbol. She explores how one object of mass consumption can come to matter for our cultural identities more than others. In the case of Tupperware, the product itself is less important than the method by which it was marketed. When Earl Silas Tupper invented the process for making the product in 1942, he was able to get his wares distributed to department stores nationally, but sales were quite low. Then he adopted the method of Brownie Wise, a middle-aged housewife who had churned out impressive sales of products door-to-door to pay her young son’s medical bills—and the company began to turn a serious profit. With Wise at the head of his newly created “party-sales” department, Tupper was freed to tinker with an endlessly more complicated and decorative product line. In 1954 Wise became the first woman ever to appear on the cover of Business Week. Tupperware and the Tupperware party are often cited as indications of the homogeneity and conspicuous consumption typical of middle-class suburbia in the 1950s, but Clarke seeks to counter the notion of the suburban housewife as a passive consumer by emphasizing the business skills of Wise and many of her sales force. While signifying domesticity, Tupperware simultaneously situated women in the economic sphere. This impressive foray into the material culture of the 1950s complicates many of the truisms concerning American consumerism and suburban living during the period.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 1-56098-827-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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