PEOPLE, LAND, AND COMMUNITY

COLLECTED E.F. SCHUMACHER SOCIETY LECTURES

An outstanding collection of talks devoted to the late economist E.F. Schumacher's ``small is beautiful'' ethic. Founded in 1981 by the environmental writer David Ehrenfeld and others, the E.F. Schumacher Society has sponsored some 40 lectures by noted scholars and thinkers on problems of land use, agriculture, urban planning, and other eminently practical fields. The 21 lectures gathered here by Hannum, a board member of the society, address Schumacher's call for small-scale economies and polities, a call that the Kentucky farmer-poet Wendell Berry, for one, has made his own; Berry's talk, on the need for local production and local consumption, provides the title for the collection. Other high points are Robert Swann and Susan Witt's ingenious discussion of local currencies, in which cities like Ithaca, N.Y., issue scrip to buy local goods and services, drawing on a barter pool of talent and material; and the book's afterword, by the young scholar Benjamin Strauss, on bringing notions of stewardship and land reform to Generation Xers, who seem prime candidates for the environmental crusade. As Strauss notes, this generation volunteers more time for social causes than any other age cohort of the last 30 years. Francis Moore LappÇ discusses, with her customary commonsensical approach, problems of world hunger; David Ehrenfeld examines why university bureaucracies are hostile to small-scale research projects (they don't generate enough overhead funds, Ehrenfeld writes, and thus fail to fuel what he calls a system that has no ``negative feedback''); and Stephanie Mills looks at the problems of restoring damaged lands to something like their original state. Many of these lectures went on to spawn books, among them Cities and the Wealth of Nations by Jane Jacobs and The Conquest of Paradise by Kirkpatrick Sale. For environmentalists, regional planners, and interested lay readers, this book contains abundant food for thought.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-300-06966-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1997

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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