A spirited look at the business and impact of delivering mail.

READ REVIEW

NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN

A HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE

How America got mail.

In his lively debut history, journalist Leonard, a staff writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, chronicles the evolution of the nation’s postal service through the many colorful, sometimes eccentric, personalities that shaped it. The author begins with Benjamin Franklin, who served under the British crown, overseeing postal service finances from London. After the Revolution, Franklin became the first postmaster general, a job he quickly left to become America’s ambassador to France. Nevertheless, Franklin and George Washington shared the conviction that the postal service could “be a force that promoted enlightenment, circulating newspapers and political documents that would guard the public from tyrants and demagogues spreading misinformation.” In addition, mail delivery could create a sense of connection among distant towns in the growing nation. When Alexis de Tocqueville visited in 1831, he praised the postal service as “the great link between minds.” Although there were more than 20,000 miles of post roads by the turn of the 19th century, the cost of sending letters was high, and many communities were not served, spurring competition. Henry Wells, the founder of Wells Fargo, began a delivery company in 1841; for 18 months, the Pony Express—later celebrated and romanticized—offered delivery, on horseback, in California. Free home delivery began in 1861, a much-applauded innovation, although during Arthur Comstock’s long reign as special postal inspector, the content of those deliveries was subject to investigation for obscenity. Philadelphia department store owner John Wanamaker emerges as a hero, pushing for reforms such as rural free delivery and parcel post. It was so cheap to send a package that some parents affixed stamps to their children for delivery to relatives rather than buy train tickets. Air mail, the rise of unions, financial troubles, zip codes, and the phenomenon of “going postal” are all subjects of Leonard’s brisk, informative narrative.

A spirited look at the business and impact of delivering mail.

Pub Date: May 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8021-2458-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

more