by Bob Harris ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 5, 2013
In an engaging, fully transparent, upbeat narrative, with chockablock footnotes and resources, Harris presents the MFI case...
The story of a well-meaning American journalist who travels the poorest regions of the world in search of the human stories behind microfinance loans.
Having landed a plum assignment in 2008 for Forbes Traveler that entailed staying at the world’s most expensive hotels in Dubai and Singapore, among other places, Harris (Who Hates Whom, 2007, etc.) returned deeply moved by the plight of the migrant workers he witnessed offstage, who had toiled to build the pleasure palaces of the rich. Resolved to do something to help alleviate the world’s enormous disparity of wealth, the author was intrigued by microfinance, the lending of small amounts to the working poor in the developing world, first formulated by Nobel winners Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank. Unlike charity, microfinance institutions like Kiva.org actually motivate people to change their lives, leading to better education, investment in capital equipment and acquisition of real estate. After hearing a talk by soft-spoken Kiva president Premal Shah, Harris sunk his $20,000 Forbes pay into 5,000-plus Kiva loans in approximately $25 increments that went to small, family enterprises from Peru to Cambodia. He then followed up by actually visiting clients and finding out how the money was spent and whether it did any good in helping bring people out of entrenched poverty. Harris embarked on an extraordinary journey, braving dengue fever, among other hazards. He visited a husband-and-wife furniture-making team in war-torn Sarajevo whose business sends their kids to school; a Rwandan single mother who used her loans to set up a thriving convenience store in her town; and the proprietor of an early-education center on Chicago’s North Side.In an engaging, fully transparent, upbeat narrative, with chockablock footnotes and resources, Harris presents the MFI case very persuasively.
Pub Date: March 5, 2013
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2013
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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by Ta-Nehisi Coates ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 8, 2015
This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
National Book Award Winner
The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.
Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”
Pub Date: July 8, 2015
Page Count: 176
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau
Review Posted Online: May 5, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015
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