BEN AND JERRY'S

THE INSIDE SCOOP

An insider's engagingly informal history of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Inc., a Vermont-based enterprise known for its scrumptious ice cream, profitable growth, and idiosyncratic brand of socioeconomic responsibility. Lager starts with a once-over-lightly version of how two childhood pals, Ben Cohen (a Colgate dropout) and Jerry Greenfield (an Oberlin grad who couldn't gain admission to med school), joined forces to open an ice cream parlor in an abandoned gas station in Burlington, Vt., in the spring of 1978. Against the odds, their venture prospered, and in 1982 the countercultural founders persuaded the author (an MBA who then owned a local nightclub) to give them a hand. He stayed until 1990, retiring as CEO in his 30s while remaining on call as a consultant and member of the publicly held company's board of directors. Despite its lucrative niche in the super-premium sector of the ice-cream market, enviable income statements, and attention-grabbing promotional campaigns that have helped make the corporate name recognizable on Wall Street as well as in New Age circles, Ben & Jerry's was by no means an overnight success. Initially, Lager makes clear, expansion capital was hard to come by; in addition, the fledgling firm had to compete with the formidable likes of Pillsbury (HÑagen-Dazs) and Kraft (Frusen GlÑdjÇ). While the entrepreneurial principals earned a well- deserved reputation for hang-loose management, they worked long and hard to gain acceptance in mainstream retail outlets. Nor, by the author's authoritative account, was the company's high-profile commitment to a two-part bottom line (which measures not only financial results but also the degree to which concern for the community figures in business decisions) reached without often acrimonious debate. A diverting take on a flourishing concern that, if not precisely a commercial paradigm, does its own thing with considerable style and gusto. (Author tour)

Pub Date: June 1, 1994

ISBN: 0-517-59716-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Crown

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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