The scope of the subject matter is impressive, and the execution is outstanding.

THE SUMMIT

BRETTON WOODS, 1944: J.M. KEYNES AND THE RESHAPING OF THE GLOBAL ECONOMY

Sky News economics editor Conway (50 Economics Ideas You Really Need to Know, 2009) covers the inside story of what really happened during the 22 days of the conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July 1944.

The author provides a compelling portrait of the event, which took place on the international stage of big-power geopolitics and was driven by long-range changes in monetary relations. It was at Bretton Woods that the dollar became the world's senior reserve currency, replacing the debt-ridden British pound and the collapsed gold reserve system discredited during the Great Depression. Conway also chronicles the rise of the United States as the world's leading creditor from before World War I, and he outlines how that trajectory affected the proceedings, counterpointing the disastrous attempts of debtors like the British and French to revive the prewar gold standard. The author also extends the narrative to the present by way of President Richard Nixon's 1971 decision to take the dollar off the gold standard. Conway takes issue with earlier, narrowly focused economic treatments and the view that international monetary economics is “esoteric and irrelevant.” The author draws on previously untapped material from participants, (e.g., George Bolton of the Bank of England), including personal recollections, accounts and diaries, and archives from Russia. Conway documents the rich relationship between John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White. Competition between the two was long-standing—White was determined to secure hegemony for the dollar after the war, while Keynes attempted to protect the U.K.'s finances from the effects of its indebtedness to colonies like India and South Africa—and Conway presents the relationship intriguingly throughout. Additionally, he portrays how Keynes' incredible arrogance and rudeness undermined his effectiveness with American policymakers.

The scope of the subject matter is impressive, and the execution is outstanding.

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-1605986814

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Pegasus

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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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

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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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