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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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.


Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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