A lively plot and brief chapters will evoke CEOs’ and business managers’ memories of bedtime stories—and make them want to...

No More Magic Wands


An imaginative fairy tale that also acts as a primer on cybersecurity.

In a world where cyberattacks are a very real and frightening threat to most businesses, Finney offers an authoritative instruction manual, tucked into a world of fantasy in which characters all work together to learn important life lessons. Harmony Evergreen is an elf whose father, Honest, is the CEO of a magic wand company that finds itself under attack from competitors who sell knockoff wands. After a security breach results in a leak of the company’s customer information, an angry witch turns Harmony’s father into a statue. Harmony decides to use the last remaining magic wand to go back in time and try to prevent the leak from happening. She learns through trial and error how to form a culture of security among her employees, and readers will learn along with her. She must figure out who to hire for her security team, how to train her employees to spot “phishing” emails, and how to create redundancies in duties that prevent a single employee from stealing money or data. The central lesson of the book is that all of a company’s employees must work in tandem to enable cybersecurity’s success—from elf CEOs to groundhog midlevel managers and beyond. The lessons are driven home in chapter summaries that translate Harmony’s fictional quest into real-world challenges. Finney is the chief security officer at Southern Methodist University in Texas and has worked in cybersecurity for more than 15 years, so his words ring true when he advises his target audience about the cultural changes that can protect a company against attacks. He’s also written screenplays and novels, so his manual is dotted with numerous plot and character details that have nothing to do with cybersecurity but simply make for a good read. For example, the cast not only includes elves, wizards, and gnomes—it also has talking pigs, groundhogs, and rabbits. At not quite 130 pages, it’s a short book as well—one that would make an ideal accompaniment to a cybersecurity seminar for people who are new to the subject.

A lively plot and brief chapters will evoke CEOs’ and business managers’ memories of bedtime stories—and make them want to learn more about preparing for cyberthreats.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5355-3892-3

Page Count: 130

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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