Of interest for students of French history or the history of finance, if they can tie it all together.

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THE QUEEN'S EMBROIDERER

LOVERS, SWINDLERS, PARIS, AND THE FIRST STOCK MARKET CRISIS

The tale of two 17th- and 18th-century French families, a story that begins as a fairy tale and ends as a nightmare.

The families Magoulet and Chevrot tied their stars to the court of Louis XIV. The Magoulets were master embroiderers who also made leather cases to transport fragile treasures. The king’s wars, winter, famine, and poor economics eventually curtailed their work and livelihood, but Jacques Magoulet caught the eye of Louis’ finance minister and became the tax collector for the nation. One of DeJean’s (Romance Languages/Univ. of Pennsylvania; How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, 2014, etc.) main narrative elements involves men who knew no rules. They wanted to be rich and noble, and lying and cheating become their primary methods. The Chevrots, however, took another approach. They chose to make money from money, eschewing conspicuous consumption and devoting all their energy to purchasing positions from the crown to advance their standing. The fastest way to amass money was to marry into it, and the Chevrots played the game well—except for the Romeo and Juliet of their families, who fell in love and vowed to marry. Louis appointed John Law, an Englishman, to control the largest economy in Europe, and he introduced paper money, dividends, the first ever investment fever, and, finally, the bursting bubble. Unfortunately, most of the book concerns economics, which is not the author’s forte, and the title is misleading. Money controlled the drive of these two families, and many of them were liars, forgers, imposters, and abusers. The narrative is intermittently interesting but difficult to follow as the stories jump around in time and between families. Times were difficult, but these two families drove themselves to ruin by pure, unadulterated greed.

Of interest for students of French history or the history of finance, if they can tie it all together.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63286-474-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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