An everyman’s chronicle of the Great Recession, one that laments what was lost but leaves room for hope in American...

THE GREAT ECONOMIC TRAIN WRECK

WHEN AMERICA WENT OFF THE RAILS: HOW THE NATION'S FINANCIAL CRISIS LOOKS FROM MAIN STREET

A blow-by-blow account of the 2008–2009 financial meltdown from the Main Street perspective.

Clark, the host of the “Kevin Clark Business Minute radio show, explores how the 2008 crash underscores the divide between Washington and the average American. The Michigan-based financial advisor compiled his weekly radio commentaries during the financial collapse into a diary of sorts that captured the anxiety felt in America’s heartland while leaders struggled to get the economy back on track. After Lehman Brothers folded, several other financial institutions entered dire straits, shattering the dreams of regular people; Clark was “overwhelmed, frustrated and angry.” He exhorted his listeners to believe in American perseverance, although his writings reflect the gloom brought on by a plunging stock market and double-digit unemployment. A journal entry reveals how the financial-services veteran of 27 years found himself bewildered by the fallout: “I find the amount of wealth destroyed in the past six months as truly staggering.” Along with a timeline that follows every turn of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the book delves into possible long-term implications. Clark frets about inflation and the expansion of government amid news of corporate bailouts, Federal Reserve bond-buying and ballooning national debt. But the author is at his best when he puts a human face on the calamity. The story of a retired couple who lost their savings reminds us that recessions are more than declines in GDP. Clark sometimes criticizes the Obama administration, and he discloses that he served on Republican Pete Hoekstra’s unsuccessful campaign for governor. While the book doesn’t shy away from the intersection of politics and finance, it’s more about protecting average investors than pushing policy. Clark seeks to educate, and his homespun parables mitigate the jaded tone that sometimes creeps in. The result is a blend of pragmatism and optimism that speaks to a truth of investing: Opportunity is often found somewhere between fear and fact.

An everyman’s chronicle of the Great Recession, one that laments what was lost but leaves room for hope in American resiliency.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1599322810

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2012

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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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