THE BROTHERS

THE HIDDEN WORLD OF JAPAN'S RICHEST FAMILY

British journalist Downer has bitten off appreciably more than she can chew in this interpretive history of the house of Tsutsumi, one of the wealthiest and least conventional families in conformist Japan. Drawing on interviews (though not with the principals) and on the public record, the author offers a generation-spanning narrative more notable for its gushy, graceless style than for any insights into an upstart dynasty or the closed society in which, against the odds, it has prospered. In 1907, 18-year-old Yasujiro Tsutsumi quit his rural village for Tokyo. Despite a tangled personal life complicated by womanizing, the enterprising young man amassed a great fortune, with business interests (conducted under the Seibu corporate banner) ranging from railways through golf courses, hotels, and retail outlets. Japan's defeat in WW II proved a blessing in disguise for the go-getting Yasujiro, who snapped up property at distress prices. When he died in 1964, he left a vast empire and considerable political clout to two favored sons. The elder, Seiji, assumed nominal control but focused on making a name for himself in the department-store trade. By the mid-1970s, Yoshiaki (a chip off the old block) was ready to take his place at the head of the Seibu table, and the two brothers went their separate ways. Both are reportedly multibillionaires, and Yoshiaki ranks among the world's wealthiest individuals. Nearing 70, the less active Seiji appears to have reconciled with his sibling rival. The guessing game as to who might inherit what they have built has been under way for some time. At best, Downer has a shaky grasp of commerce, and she's given to tedious stretches of speculative chat on the relationships among members of the extended Tsutsumi clan. The Tsutsumis await a savvier Boswell to bring them to life.

Pub Date: July 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-679-42554-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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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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