A dispassionate embrace of both theory-guided inquiry and theory-free empiricism.

THE ORIGINS OF YOU

HOW CHILDHOOD SHAPES LATER LIFE

Four prominent psychologists investigate a range of human development questions.

Belsky, Caspi, Moffitt, and Poulton bring together a variety of threads in this engaging account of the results of three longitudinal studies—“nonexperimental, observational research in which children are studied over time and no efforts are made to influence their development.” In mostly accessible, occasionally jargon-y prose, the authors explain that their field is a probabilistic rather than deterministic science, a dynamic process that mingles what is going on within the child and the environment in which they are raised. Taken together, a myriad of factors allows researchers to gain insight into—even to predict—future adult functioning. The volume displays scope and curiosity, as the authors look at genetic factors, whether early circumstances can forecast certain later developmental outcomes, how and if the family experience and the environmental situation shape aspects of later life, and the role of the childhood experience in determining elements of adult health. The authors also examine developmental mechanisms at work regarding how self-control displayed in childhood can lead to particular behavior in adulthood or how a diagnosis of childhood ADHD could affect elements of adult life. There is a clear mapping of how adverse family and neighborhood environments promoted enduring anti-social behavior, and there are evident indications that long hours spent in day care fostered disobedience and impulsivity (even in sensitive day care environments). There are wide-open, preliminary chapters on the roles of genetics and the environment on anti-social behavior and depression (and your chances of becoming a smoker), and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that adverse experiences in childhood, such as bullying, can undermine future health. Amid the grim news is evidence of the salubrious roles played by resilience and intervention.

A dispassionate embrace of both theory-guided inquiry and theory-free empiricism. (28 illustrations)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98345-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

GIRLHOOD

An acclaimed nonfiction writer gathers essays embracing the pleasure, pain, and power of growing up as a girl and woman.

In her latest powerful personal and cultural examination, Febos interrogates the complexities of feminism and the "darkness" that has defined much of her life and career. In "Kettle Holes," she describes how experiences of humiliation at the hands of a boy she loved helped shape some of the pleasure she later found working as a dominatrix (an experience she vividly recounted in her 2010 book, Whip Smart). As she fearlessly plumbed the depths of her precocious sexuality in private, she watched in dismay as patriarchal society transformed her into a "passive thing.” In "Wild America," the author delves into body-shaming issues, recounting how, during adolescence, self-hatred manifested as a desire to physically erase herself and her "gigantic" hands. Only later, in the love she found with a lesbian partner, did she finally appreciate the pleasure her hands could give her and others. Febos goes on to explore the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships in "Thesmophoria,” writing about the suffering she brought to her mother through lies and omissions about clandestine—and sometimes dangerous—sexual experiments and youthful flirtations with crystal meth and heroin. Their relationship was based on the "ritual violence" that informed the Persephone/Demeter dyad, in which the daughter alternately brought both pain and joy to her mother. "Intrusions" considers how patriarchy transforms violence against women into narratives of courtship that pervert the meaning of love. In "Thank You for Taking Care of Yourself," Febos memorably demonstrates how the simple act of platonic touching can be transformed into a psychosexual minefield for women. Profound and gloriously provocative, this book—a perfect follow-up to her equally visceral previous memoir, Abandon Me (2017)—transforms the wounds and scars of lived female experience into an occasion for self-understanding that is both honest and lyrical.

Consistently illuminating, unabashedly ferocious writing.

Pub Date: March 30, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-63557-252-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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