APPLE

THE INSIDE STORY OF INTRIGUE, EGOMANIA, AND BUSINESS BLUNDERS

A disappointing book about a lovable company. Carlton, a West Coast technology reporter for the Wall Street Journal, here provides an in-depth look at Apple's woes through the years. There are no easy answers to its failures, though it's tempting to blame former CEOs like Michael Spindler, the German- born leader so rattled by his job that he left, literally, on life support; Gil Amelio, a techie who didn't understand how to market a brand-name; and even Steve Jobs, a larger-than-life presence ousted by John Sculley, who was later ousted himself. Apple's real downfall may have been how loyal its users became—Sculley, who had been a fantastic marketer at Pepsi, refused to license Macintosh applications and even the Mac ``box,'' a decision that pared down Apple's users to a tiny band of fanatics. Companies were attracted to the elegant Macintosh but were dissuaded when they couldn't buy inexpensive knock-offs, as they could with so many other brands, and the inefficient Microsoft system became the industry standard. Time and again, Apple misunderstood the demands of the market; for example, when the company introduced the PowerBook, it overstocked the cheap model and understocked the top-of-the-line models, ignoring the obvious fact that computer fans are willing to spend money in order to get the latest tech toy. Thousands of orders for the expensive PowerBook went unfilled, and Apple suffered a blow to its ego and its bottom line. But while its problems are fairly evident, Carlton fails to get at the heart of Apple, to what inspired such devotion from users and employees. And like so many products in the high-tech industry, this book is already somewhat obsolete, with the recent resignation of Mike Markkula and the return of Steve Jobs. Apple fans are a die-hard bunch, and this dry corporate history simply lacks the passion that Mac users feel about their product.

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 1997

ISBN: 0-8129-2851-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Times/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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