Engages some worthwhile themes, often tangled in dense prose.

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Shift

A USER'S GUIDE TO THE NEW ECONOMY

A scholarly look at how technology has radically transformed the world of commerce, coupled with advice for how to navigate this new landscape.

In his second book, Shaughnessy (The Elastic Enterprise, 2012) contends that business has undergone an elemental shift (hence, the title) into an entirely new era. Business is becoming less transactional, more focused on fostering communities instead of merely peddling products; less encumbered by an emphasis on raw materials, more indebted to “near-free” labor and the open-source movement. The consumer, too, has been transformed within an economy that lionizes individuality and self-sufficiency and encourages the expansion of his or her needs. While risk was once largely shouldered by massive corporate institutions, it has now been redistributed to smaller organizations, including startups and the self-employed. Mobile technology has for the first time created a truly global market, diminishing the significance of the physical boundaries that once constrained trade. The grand result is systemic “disruption”—lately an overused term—and the introduction of innovation not yet entirely supported by the markets, current business practices, or governmental policies. Shaughnessy diagnoses these changes and recommends how businesses, individuals, and governments can become more nimble, acclimating themselves to a new world characterized by “constant flux.” The author, a trained economic historian, ably imparts many insights, especially concerning the reforms governments should adopt in order to remain relevant and to encourage the best of what modern commerce has to offer. Shaughnessy’s book also makes an intriguing argument that such a radically new economy requires a new metric for gauging success, one that focuses on the capacity for change rather than more traditional measurements. He discusses at some length how this metric—called Key Capability Indicators—works. However, whatever wisdom the book imparts is largely undermined by writing cluttered by gratuitous hypertechnicality. Sometimes, the result is mere pretention: what is gained by using “velocity” to describe a business’ speed rather than the word “speed” itself? Why “geographical entities” instead of “places?” Even worse is when key concepts—like “ecosystem”—are explained through the endless production of cryptic metaphor, here in an entire chapter called “The Ecosystem Metaphor.” Readers will also tire of terms like “disintermediated economy,” “nonenclosed value creation,” and “transactional friction.”

Engages some worthwhile themes, often tangled in dense prose. 

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941420-03-4

Page Count: 396

Publisher: Tru Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2015

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

A LITTLE HISTORY OF POETRY

A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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