An intriguing study for students of military culture and mental health.



A challenge to conventional wisdom about the military ignoring PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and suicide among troops who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Kieran (History, American Studies/Washington & Jefferson Coll.; Forever Vietnam: How a Divisive War Changed American Public Memory, 2014, etc.) never denies the seriousness of PTSD, TBI, and suicide among active and discharged veterans. However, he contends that critics of the military and federal bureaucracy often downplay the complexities of understanding the problems and finding effective solutions. In fact, he contends, implacable anti-war critics have unfairly used the psychological injuries for political ends. “In a climate in which anti-war sentiment was often dismissed with assertions that critics were not supporting the troops,” writes Kieran, “pointing out how the wars were harming those troops facilitated broader policy critiques.” Before the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, research about PTSD, TBI, and suicide was based on the premise that deployments would be brief and that the same troops would not be ordered to return to the same war zones multiple times. When the nature of war changed, the military and the Veterans Administration had to recalibrate their policies and their research to react to new realities. As the author points out, those recalibrations take time and don’t usually conform to the urgent needs of combat veterans. Kieran’s research takes readers inside the medical arm of military services and civilian government bureaucracies, showing dedicated researchers and administrators trying to reach consensus about how to treat—and perhaps even prevent—serious mental damage and suicide. The author stresses that the disagreements about how to proceed derive from compassionate advocates relying on science-based research. Kieran rejects the commonly held belief that those in charge of warfare are dismissive of effective treatments for veterans. Throughout, the author provides memorable individual case studies. Much of the book, however, relies on dense academic research and a scholarly writing style, so general readers will need to pay close attention to digest the author’s arguments.

An intriguing study for students of military culture and mental health.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4798-9236-5

Page Count: 404

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2019

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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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