JUST DO IT

THE NIKE SPIRIT IN THE CORPORATE WORLD

An agreeably fervid take on what makes Nike Inc. a consistent winner in the ultracompetitive sports-and-fitness trade. Accorded apparently open access, Katz (Home Fires, 1992) made the most of his unusual opportunity, capturing the in-your-face Çlan and imperatives that keep the company (best known for its athletic footwear) ahead of a pack that includes the likes of Adidas, LA Gear, and Reebock. Eschewing the more familiar forms of corporate history, he simply reports on the hectic pace maintained by Nike (named after the Greek goddess of victory) over a turbulent 17-month span that began shortly before the Summer Olympics of 1992 and ended at the start of this year. In the course of tracking Nike minions in venues ranging from corporate headquarters (in Beaverton, Ore.) through Europe, Pusan, South Korea (site of key manufacturing facilities), and inner-city shoe stores, the author provides just enough background on how the company managed to become a multinational force to keep his running commentary on contemporary events in clear perspective. Katz offers something for almost everyone in his vivid warts-and-all accounts of the moves made by Nike's executives, high-profile spokesmen (Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, et al.), and lesser lights. Sports fans get to meet superstar athletes up close, while armchair investors can focus on the megabuck rewards afforded by an organization whose annual revenues top $3.9 billion barely two decades after its founding. In like vein, students of psychology can make what they will of the author's efforts to explain how a global enterprise is able to sustain its entrepreneurial drive in a long-distance race with no apparent finish line, and trend spotters may wonder at Nike's uncanny capacity to keep one step ahead in fashion while not breaking faith with the world-class athletes and wannabes who gave the company its jump start. An engrossing and illuminating appreciation of a distinctive corporate culture.

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-43275-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1994

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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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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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