A brisk look at the business giant.

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BEZONOMICS

HOW AMAZON IS CHANGING OUR LIVES AND WHAT THE WORLD'S BEST COMPANIES ARE LEARNING FROM IT

A business journalist examines the widespread influence of Amazon's strategies.

Drawing on Brad Stone’s The Everything Store (2013), much media coverage, and more than 100 interviews, Fortune magazine contributing editor Dumaine offers a lively history of Amazon’s huge success and forecasts its effect on 21st-century business. The author clearly admires Jeff Bezos for his astute melding of big data and artificial intelligence in running “the smartest company the world has ever seen.” Bezos, Dumaine writes, is “a force of nature, moving at warp speed through a vast canvas.” He has the ability “to face the unvarnished truth no matter how inconvenient, to make decisions based on cold, hard facts.” He reads “at an Olympic level,” quickly absorbing information and responding in detail with “both strategic and tactical feedback.” He takes a long view, thinking “in terms of decades and centuries.” He harbors “an ambition to be seen as more than a businessman—as rather, a cultural force, an idea merchant.” The author does acknowledge some shortcomings: Bezos’ “fact-driven, relentlessly focused mind” can make him appear “as less than empathic,” especially to his employees and community, earning him a reputation as a plutocrat. Dumaine’s recounting of Amazon’s rise, as well as his portrayal of Bezos, is likely to be familiar to readers who keep up with business news. Besides analyzing the company’s success, the author speculates about what areas Bezos will disrupt in the future: Likely suspects include advertising; health care, with Amazon offering prescription drugs, home health care products, and remote monitoring by medical practitioners; and banking—Amazon would become “a digital financial business offering checking accounts, loans, and mortgages.” As Dumaine asserts, “the list of new ventures for Amazon keeps growing” along with an increasing number of business consultants advising clients on how to compete.

A brisk look at the business giant.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-1363-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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