A serviceable account best appreciated by students of business and veterans of the airline wars.

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TWELVE YEARS OF TURBULENCE

THE INSIDE STORY OF AMERICAN AIRLINES’ BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL

An insider’s account of the disastrous challenges that faced American Airlines, a combination of events that led to the creation of the world’s largest airline.

In a workmanlike behind-the-scenes narrative, Kennedy, the company’s general counsel from 2003 until his retirement in 2013, and Maxon, a retired Dallas-based airlines reporter, describe the turmoil and chaos that befell AA following 9/11. Though certainly of interest for those involved in the airline industry, the saga, full of jargon-laden descriptions of lawsuits and mergers and acquisitions, may be lackluster for general readers. NFL legend Roger Staubach, who served on the company’s board during those tumultuous years, introduces the book by referencing the company’s 2011 bankruptcy as “a Hail Mary pass” to save the airline and return it “to health and prosperity.” From there, the authors pick up the story, as Kennedy recounts his long history at AA and the events leading up to 9/11. During that tragedy, AA lost both Flight 11 in New York City and Flight 77 at the Pentagon. (AA would be involved in another tragedy just two months later when Flight 587 crashed in Belle Harbor in Queens.) The authors explain the complex business circumstances surrounding those events, including the acquisition of TWA’s assets and liabilities and the subsequent recession of 2001. They also provide an accounting of the cost of doing business in the airline industry, referencing fights with labor unions and the federal government, a revolving door of executive leadership, and tussles with competitors like Southwest Airlines over gates at Dallas’ Love Field. It all culminates in the courtroom drama of the company’s bankruptcy and subsequent merger with U.S. Airways. It’s not always riveting, but it does portray the risky landscape that large companies in a public space must navigate among regulators, the market, and their own people and how American just managed to survive.

A serviceable account best appreciated by students of business and veterans of the airline wars.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-68261-488-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Savio Republic/Post Hill Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

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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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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CAPITAL IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY

A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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