Students of economic and legal history will find Oller’s book insightful and revealing.

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WHITE SHOE

HOW A NEW BREED OF WALL STREET LAWYERS CHANGED BIG BUSINESS AND THE AMERICAN CENTURY

A lucid account of the rise of the modern law firm and the concomitant rise of the modern corporation.

Massive law firms abound in the world’s financial capitals, organized according to principles set forth by a young lawyer named Paul Cravath in the last years of the Gilded Age. Lawyers today know his last name in connection with organizational methods that are still in place—what Oller (The Swamp Fox: How Francis Marion Saved the American Revolution, 2016, etc.), who spent three decades as a Wall Street lawyer, calls “the creation of a new organizational society.” However, as the author shows, Cravath had more in mind than just regularizing office procedures. He and other “white shoe” lawyers of his time, such as William Cromwell and Elihu Root, carved legal paths that led to the current notion that a corporation has legal personhood, organizing a body of laws that helped corporations avoid regulations while enjoying as much economic freedom and wealth as possible. As Oller notes, these lawyers tended to be conservative, even reactionary; a notable example was John Foster Dulles, an entrenched foe of the New Deal, “which Dulles viewed as a threat to free enterprise.” At the same time, however, the white shoe lawyers helped develop legal limits that kept the corporations from pushing too hard, with Cravath developing methods for raising capital that curbed the practice of “watering stocks” and proposing “greater restrictions on the issue of new securities than in the past.” The corporations were not always grateful, and though the rise of the modern company tracks closely with the parallel rise of the big modern law firm, not all the Wall Street players followed suit in Cravath’s devotion to institution-building. Most, however, opted for the big-firm, multipartner, all-for-one model, and even if Cravath would later call big business “the most serious menace of our age in its social consequences upon American life," his model prevails.

Students of economic and legal history will find Oller’s book insightful and revealing.

Pub Date: March 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-4325-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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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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