MAN MEDIUM RARE

SEX, GUNS, AND OTHER PERVERSIONS OF MASCULINITY

A frenzied attempt to define manhood in an increasingly complicated society. Journalist Brown panics when his wife, who is never mentioned by name, decides that they are ready to have a child. Blind terror, confusion, and a sense of self-betrayal at the prospect of becoming a father prompt him to research the state of manhood in contemporary America. Brown's desperate need to understand the part of himself that will be lost when he becomes a parent leads him to interview hundreds of men. His subjects range widely—from surfer dudes to Wall Street brokers, from a Tantric men's group leader teaching classes in masturbation to deep-sea fishermen, from pickup artists working in the shadowlands between scoring and date rape to sadomasochistic homosexuals cruising the bars for hot sex while watching their best friends die from AIDS. The variety of Brown's subjects appears staggering on the surface, but one eventually realizes that for all of their bizarre differences, their similarities are more apparent: Virtually all of these men are selfish, territorial, predatory, and incapable of communicating with the women in their lives. Brown has collected a sideshow of extreme stereotypical masculinity that embodies the part of his soul that he fears will be lost when he settles into the responsibilities of fatherhood. In lamentation, at times pretentious, of his ``adventurer, conquering hero'' side, Brown guides us through a definition of manhood that begins somewhere around the porn star and ends somewhere around the cowboy. Man Medium Rare is much more about ``sex, guns and other perversions of masculinity'' than it is about a general notion of what it is to be a man. A trite elegy to the wanton side of Brown's own masculinity as he is dragged kicking and screaming into the adult world of ``shitty diapers,'' committment, and responsibility.

Pub Date: June 13, 1994

ISBN: 0-525-93825-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1994

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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