A bold attack on a system that needs major overhaul.



A blistering indictment of auditors and their role in permitting corporate fraud.

Reading Littman’s well-researched, legitimately angry book will likely reinforce the already widely pessimistic perspective on both self-regulation and governmental oversight of the financial world. Littman attacks the “triangle” of “fraudulent executives, complicit auditors and intolerable public injury” in an impressive work that extends beyond analyzing just the latest financial debacle. In fact, the author demonstrates that the “era of low standards” that began with Enron in late 2001 “was a long one and is not over.” Littman assails fraudulent corporate executives, but as he documents in case after case, the fraud they perpetrate largely goes unchecked by auditing firms. Governmental regulation has proven to be less than effective as well, according to Littman. The SEC made a “drastic error in leaving auditing standard development to the care of the audit profession.” And beginning in 2006, the well-intentioned Sarbanes-Oxley Act, aimed at corporate reform, was subject to “a movement to dilute [it] and press for more restrictions on litigation against auditors or financial institutions by victims of fraud.” These are just two glaring examples in a sea awash with weak and contradictory rules. The most damaging assessment made by the author is his strong claim that the designers of derivative securities “based on platforms of bundled sub-prime mortgages and other sub-par platforms could not have been ignorant of the potential consequences of what they had constructed.” Littman writes that both public officials and private executives caused “severe public injury” and “all bear heavy burdens of responsibility for the crash of 2007-2009.” Littman concludes that auditors could have prevented the “major frauds” that occurred and “had they done so, the damages would have been very substantially less.” Littman offers a set of conclusions and suggestions for improvement, and their implications are significant. This is a sobering but much-needed exposé of the real culprits behind the country’s financial maladies. Unfortunately, it appears those in both the private and public sectors must share the blame.

A bold attack on a system that needs major overhaul.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1452810997

Page Count: 492

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2011

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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