Scholarly in tone and approach but accessible and of interest to students of business history as well as to budding...

FROM HEAD SHOPS TO WHOLE FOODS

THE RISE AND FALL OF ACTIVIST ENTREPRENEURS

Survey history of the alt-commerce movement that connects some major players in the modern retail space with the counterculture of the 1960s.

Rejecting capitalism and the quest for money back in the day, many an activist nonetheless went into business. Some of them pursued avenues that were not likely to lead to wealth. One of Davis’ (History/Univ. of Baltimore) case categories centers on the founders of African-American bookstores in Harlem and other urban areas, places that they viewed “as free spaces or sites of liberation and empowerment,” not necessarily as profit centers. As it happens, he adds, according to a contemporary survey, only about a third of those stores ever showed a profit, which did not keep activists from opening them throughout the era. The feminist founders of Liberation Enterprises had more success with aprons bearing legends such as “Fuck Housework,” which found a ready market and proved a pioneering move in the specialty mail-order business, the germinal ground of the internet economy. Just as successful by any measure were the head shops of the 1960s, which begat activist organizations such as NORML and High Times, which begat—well, among other things, a culture that has made it possible for many states to permit marijuana use, either recreational or medical. And nearly ubiquitous in the modern economy is the offshoot of the organic produce store, with all its built-in tensions: organic food costs more, limiting the market to the better-off, which gives us, in the end, Whole Foods. Davis capably traces that evolution through forerunner organizations such as Erewhon, in its time “the country’s biggest wholesale purchaser of organic produce and grains,” and the Good Food chain of Austin, Texas, in which Whole Foods founder John Mackey cut his teeth.

Scholarly in tone and approach but accessible and of interest to students of business history as well as to budding entrepreneurs.

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-231-17158-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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