Not a quick read like many similar books but rather a deep, thoughtful master class on the “negotiation game.”



How to become “a mindful, sophisticated negotiator.”

Behavioral economist Sally, a veteran teacher of negotiations at Cornell and Dartmouth, goes beyond his two favorite books on the topic—How To Win Friends and Influence People (“not scientific”) and Getting To Yes (“limited”)—to explain how “becoming an analytical observer of the people around you” is the path to more effective negotiation. In this appealing, well-written book, he covers the skills and moves of outstanding negotiators, who “read” their counterparts, react, and create winning outcomes. The single most important factor for successful negotiators, writes the author, is toughness—not belligerent but rather determined and focused. Thorough preparation is critical. Advanced practitioners multitask, “practice, practice, practice,” and exhibit Edgar Allan Poe’s qualities of a con man: “minuteness, interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and grin.” They are “Machiavelli-esque,” combining concepts from game theory with insights from social psychology. Sally draws on a wonderful array of sources to illustrate his points, including beauty contests, TV wrestling, sociologist Erving Goffman’s insights into “framing negotiation as a drama,” John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, the Korean armistice talks, and U.N. diplomat Gianni Picco’s preparations for his early 1990s negotiations to free Western hostages in Lebanon. Whether discussing the advantages of a Columbo-like “surface incompetence” or of changing a bargaining persona “as if it were a mask,” the author fully explores the nuances of interactions. He also celebrates Richard Holbrooke’s winning “performance” during talks to end the Bosnia conflict, when the American diplomat’s troubled expression forced counterparts to ask, “What is it?” and Holbrooke said, “I’m worried. I don’t know if it’s going to work.” There are detailed chapters on key aspects of negotiation, from drama, acting, and performance to fairness, gender, and emotions.

Not a quick read like many similar books but rather a deep, thoughtful master class on the “negotiation game.”

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16639-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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