Engaging, useful, and sometimes annoyingly repetitious.



How some people achieve the “unforeseen blessing” of growth from adversity.

In an era of increasing stress and adversity—whether from global issues like war, terrorism, and climate change or personal setbacks like divorce and financial loss—many Americans are embracing the change and uncertainty of challenges, write the Marstons, and improving and transforming their lives as a result. Both Ama, a strategy and leadership expert, and her veteran psychotherapist mother, Stephanie (If Not Now, When?: Reclaiming Ourselves at Midlife, 2001, etc.), have consulted widely on stress, work, and leadership. In this collaboration, they recount research from many disciplines and the inspiring stories of individuals demonstrating the power of “Transformative Resilience” to “learn, grow, and spring forward” after severe challenges. These survivors do not simply recover or bounce back; they emerge transformed. “Type Rs” range from a woman doctor who lost both legs in a tornado and became a determined advocate for children with prosthetics to an HIV-positive man diagnosed as terminally ill who has lived another 35 years as a leader of various causes. Their adversities vary, but all share a determination not to allow their setback to define them, to keep a positive mindset and “move away from a tendency to catastrophize,” and to reframe their situations, thereby choosing their own attitudes. Whether individuals, families, or organizations, those successful at turning adversity into growth tend to go through stages, beginning with comfort, then disruption and chaos, and finally (after a catalyst triggers transformation) a re-engagement with the world, “but in a new way.” The authors spell out the essential skills of TRs (adaptability, purpose, active engagement, etc.) and show how these transformational traits can benefit families and groups in turbulent times. While the phrase “Transformative Resilience” has the odor of marketing hyperbole, the authors offer an informative and inspiring book on some remarkably positive responses to misfortune and change.

Engaging, useful, and sometimes annoyingly repetitious.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61039-806-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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