An infectiously fun read.

READ REVIEW

THE PLAZA

THE SECRET LIFE OF AMERICA'S MOST FAMOUS HOTEL

A lively tale about the “white marble mountain rising in the center” of Manhattan.

In her debut, New York Times real estate contributor Satow chronicles the history of one of New York City’s most iconic structures. Drawing on architectural, financial, social, and popular history, the author “examines how the Plaza is ground zero for the increasing globalization of money and the slow decoupling of pedigree from wealth.” She interviewed hundreds of people, from bellmen and managers to lawyers and chefs, to give her story a rich, personal touch (she was married in the hotel’s grand Terrace Room) and an entertaining, novelistic flair. The first Plaza was built in 1890 only to be torn down 15 years later. Financier Harry Black hired renowned architect Henry Janeway Hardenbergh to construct a “nineteen-story white gleaming tower”; the construction cost “$340 million in today’s dollars.” The hotel was lavish and opulent, filled with the finest linens, silverware, 1,650 chandeliers, exquisite dining rooms, and a “dog check room.” It made its debut—along with the New York taxicab—in 1907, and the first guest was Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, “the dashing millionaire.” Satow clearly loves details, and most of them are fascinating. The Plaza had a staff of 1,500, including more than 80 cooks and two men to dust the chandeliers. Throughout this sumptuous, busy history, the author enlightens and entertains with stories and anecdotes that recount the hotel’s many famous and colorful guests, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and author Kay Thompson (later evicted), whose fictional character Eloise also lived at the Plaza; how it weathered Prohibition and the Depression; changes in ownership, American (Conrad Hilton, Donald Trump) and foreign (Saudi Arabia, Singapore, currently Qatar); bankruptcy, and its controversial 2005 conversion to multimillion-dollar condominiums. As Satow writes, over “its 111 years, the Plaza has extolled beauty on the surface and grit behind the scenes.”

An infectiously fun read.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4555-6667-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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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