edited by Jack Beatty ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 10, 2001
An engaging and varied look at the economic forces that have shaped America.
Atlantic Monthly senior editor Beatty (The World According to Peter Drucker, 1998, etc.) has put together an eclectic collection of readings that examines the influence of corporations on American life—from the cotton mills of 19th-century New England to the leveraged buyouts of contemporary Wall Street.
Two features distinguish the corporation from traditional partnerships: limited liability and perpetual existence. The former permits investors to shield their personal assets no matter how badly their ventures fare while the latter ensures that businesses transcend the personal fortunes of their partners. Both features encouraged industrial growth in the private sector on a scale otherwise impossible. Until the 20th century, the US lacked a central government powerful enough to undertake large-scale public works projects, such as building railroads. As the readings amply demonstrate, the corporation filled that void, enabling the development of the major industrial enterprises that transformed America from a rural, decentralized society to an integrated industrial power. Although the author’s account traces the familiar terrain of how corporate America changed to reflect social and political developments (the rise of labor unions, women in the work force, anti-monopoly sentiment), its real strength lies in Beatty’s deft selection of readings that reveal how the country’s economic evolution affected societal attitudes and individual lives. For instance, he includes an unexpectedly glowing report from Charles Dickens on the working conditions in the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, which contrasts nicely with the satirical indictment of corporate culture taken from Joseph Heller’s novel, Something Happened. Although Beatty includes readings that highlight the contributions of large corporations to the national development, he is at his best when he gets the contemporary corporate giant in his cross-hairs, skewering pampered executives for mismanagement and pointing to the deleterious effect of the corporate mentality on American culture and family.An engaging and varied look at the economic forces that have shaped America.
Pub Date: April 10, 2001
Page Count: 528
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2001
Share your opinion of this book
by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
Share your opinion of this book
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
Page Count: 432
Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019
Share your opinion of this book
More About This Book
SEEN & HEARD
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!