As an abbreviated guide, Mosier’s work won’t replace a more comprehensive discussion of the necessary financial preparations...

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FINANCIAL STRAIGHT TALK

ROAD TO RETIREMENT

A solid overview of financial strategies for retirement.

The U.S. Census tells us that the first of some 80 million baby boomers will reach age 65 in 2011. While this has traditionally been the retirement age, economic conditions have forced many to delay the end of their working years. Nonetheless, a steady stream of books about financial planning for retirement continues to be published in an effort to prepare these boomers for their “golden years.” Mosier’s offering could be viewed as just another standard how-to book, but this short work does an admirable job of handling the topic, due in large part to the way it is written. The author, who has over 30 years of experience in financial services, knows how to distill a lot of investment talk down to the basics. She spends time discussing such key issues as the amount of risk an investor can tolerate and the need to diversify. Ordinarily, this would be financial advice available anywhere, but Mosier serves it up authoritatively, combining a serious explanation with a light touch of informality to achieve the right balance. She also includes just enough statistics to support the text. Similarly, Mosier covers the three major investment vehicles—equities, fixed-income and cash—in clear, simple language. Mosier includes chapters on mutual funds, asset allocation and global investing—an area of particular importance these days. She addresses other financial life needs that one must consider, such as funding a child’s college education. Finally, Mosier advises readers to make use of the investment research firm Morningstar, and to seriously think about consulting with a financial planner. She closes the book with a Resources section that helpfully includes both online and offline sources of information (for those not comfortable navigating the Internet) and a handy glossary.

As an abbreviated guide, Mosier’s work won’t replace a more comprehensive discussion of the necessary financial preparations for retirement, but it’s an excellent starting point.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2010

ISBN: 978-1452056760

Page Count: 164

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2010

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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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Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

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EDISON

One of history’s most prolific inventors receives his due from one of the world’s greatest biographers.

Pulitzer and National Book Award winner Morris (This Living Hand and Other Essays, 2012, etc.), who died this year, agrees that Thomas Edison (1847-1931) almost certainly said, “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” and few readers of this outstanding biography will doubt that he was the quintessential workaholic. Raised in a middle-class Michigan family, Edison displayed an obsessive entrepreneurial spirit from childhood. As an adolescent, he ran a thriving business selling food and newspapers on a local railroad. Learning Morse code, he spent the Civil War as a telegrapher, impressing colleagues with his speed and superiors with his ability to improve the equipment. In 1870, he opened his own shop to produce inventions to order. By 1876, he had money to build a large laboratory in New Jersey, possibly the world’s first industrial research facility. Never a loner, Edison hired talented people to assist him. The dazzling results included the first commercially successful light bulb for which, Morris reminds readers, he invented the entire system: dynamo, wires, transformers, connections, and switches. Critics proclaim that Edison’s innovations (motion pictures, fluoroscope, rechargeable batteries, mimeograph, etc.) were merely improvements on others’ work, but this is mostly a matter of sour grapes. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone was a clunky, short-range device until it added Edison’s carbon microphone. And his phonograph flabbergasted everyone. Humans had been making images long before Daguerre, but no one had ever reproduced sound. Morris rivetingly describes the personalities, business details, and practical uses of Edison’s inventions as well as the massive technical details of years of research and trial and error for both his triumphs and his failures. For no obvious reason, the author writes in reverse chronological order, beginning in 1920, with each of the seven following chapters backtracking a decade. It may not satisfy all readers, but it works.

Not only the definitive life, but a tour de force by a master.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9311-0

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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