COUBERTIN'S OLYMPICS

HOW THE GAMES BEGAN

In the Sports Legacy series, a sympathetic, overdue look at a man with an extraordinary vision, and extraordinary will to match. Chiefly responsible for reviving the modern Olympic Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin preferred to work behind the scenes, and was consequently often slighted. Did he mind? In this engaging portrait, Kristy suggests that he certainly did: ``He had never sought glory for himself, but it would have been nice to have glory thrust upon him.'' The author ably describes the birth of Coubertin's dream, and how he got the ball rolling through solicitations, negotiation, compromise, and outright tricks; so ``strenuous, exciting and profitable'' were his 1896 Games that, despite ceaseless contention and political maneuvering, the Olympic Movement has been growing ever since, adding winter games and (over Coubertin's strident objections) women's events. Brief accounts of the ancient Games, 19th-century precursors, and highlights of the first few Olympics flesh out the narrative, as do occasional side essays, plenty of small black-and-white photosold and newas well as some in full color. (notes, bibliography, index) (Biography. 12- 15)

Pub Date: July 21, 1995

ISBN: 0-8225-3327-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Lerner

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1995

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An enlightening, scary journey.

BOOMERANG

TRAVELS IN THE NEW THIRD WORLD

A world tour of nations that have collapsed financially or that played a role in the collapse of others.

In his previous book, The Big Short (2010), Lewis dug deep into the housing-market failure that precipitated the economic collapse of 2007-08. Here the author tours Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and California to compose a broader picture of what went wrong. Like Lewis’ other bestsellers, this book is alternately wry, snarky, laugh-out-loud humorous, serious and, most importantly, filled with insights. The author is a master at explaining financially complex realms by casting them as narratives of individuals. In each place, he finds people famous, infamous and nearly anonymous who can fairly be rendered as villains or heroes. Each chapter started as an article for Vanity Fair, yet the seemingly disparate features coalesce nicely in the book. Lewis is willing to court danger by generalizing about the characteristics within each nation that led to unexpected consequences. As usual, the author delivers a nice balance of trenchant analysis and lucid writing. In regards to Greece, the most distressed nation of all, "it turned out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it."

An enlightening, scary journey.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-393-08181-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2011

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A unique examination of the limits of models and theories in understanding and predicting human behavior, and a nice...

MODELS.BEHAVING.BADLY.

WHY CONFUSING ILLUSION WITH REALITY CAN LEAD TO DISASTER, ON WALL STREET AND IN LIFE

A fascinating cross-disciplinary exploration of how and why financial and scientific models fail.

Derman (Financial Engineering/Columbia Univ.; My Life as a Quant, 2004) is a former theoretical physicist turned Wall Street financial engineer, or quantitative analyst (“quant”). Having previously written about the world of quantitative finance, he now sets out to discover why existing financial models failed to predict the economic crisis of 2007-08. Quants use mathematics and physics to create their predictions of how markets work; Derman argues that these models fail to account for the human element, or what John Maynard Keynes called “animal sprits.” Drawing on his experience as a child in Apartheid South Africa, the author exposes the failure of models and theories when applied to politics. By incorporating philosophy, physics, social theory and economics, he presents an eclectic, multidisciplinary discussion about what happens when models are taken too seriously and the human factor is ignored. “The greatest conceptual danger is idolatry; believing that someone can write down a theory that encapsulates human behavior and thereby free you of the obligation to think for yourself,” he writes. Derman draws intriguing connections between the language of physics and economics, and while the material may be complex for nonphysicists, the author’s prose writing is fluid and makes many of these complicated theories accessible.

A unique examination of the limits of models and theories in understanding and predicting human behavior, and a nice rejoinder to the equations-can-solve-or-explain-everything crowd.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-4391-6498-3

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Free Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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