A brightly crafted, overlong diversion.
How to make yourself lucky.
Seneca said it best: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In this genial, upbeat overview, former Parade editor-in-chief Kaplan (The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, 2015, etc.) and risk-taking expert Marsh offer stories of those lucky moments in the lives of countless people. “To get lucky, you have to be in a place where opportunities are going to be around you,” said Marsh in one of the authors’ regular weekly conversations, which drive the narrative. Kaplan, a veteran journalist, is often out conducting interviews with famous and successful (and lucky) people, and she compares notes with Marsh, who provides insights from his own risk-related work (as a visiting researcher at Princeton and Harvard), as well as other findings in psychology, behavioral economics, and neuroscience. Time and again, their stories find luck occurring at the intersection of “chance, talent, and hard work,” whether in the case of the young carpenter Harrison Ford, installing cabinets for movie director George Lucas and winding up in the movie American Graffiti; or of aspiring actress Charlize Theron, discovered by an agent during a screaming fit in a Los Angeles bank. “You make luck through other people”—witness Mother Teresa, who found that flying first class put her next to wealthy donors. Not to mention social media maven Sree Sreenivasan, the former chief digital officer at the Met Museum, who, when he lost that job, got word out to his followers and soon landed a better-paying position. In a long succession of feel-good stories, not always about the famous but often so—from Thomas Edison to Lee Child and Deepak Chopra—the authors illustrate how individuals managed successfully to place the constellations of good fortune in alignment. They are quick to note that you won’t get lucky sitting home watching TV.A brightly crafted, overlong diversion.
Pub Date: March 6, 2018
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018
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by Robert Greene ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998
If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.
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
Page Count: 430
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998
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BOOK TO SCREEN
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
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