A slim book with an encouraging take on failure that might have benefited from the inclusion of more actionable advice.

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JOY AFTER FAILURE

Failure is not defeat but a key step on the road to success and happiness, according to this self-help work. 

Debut author Bankoski aims to empower people to make better decisions. Her model, which she calls the “Choice Cycle,” is drawn from the business world, but she argues that the same principles companies use to manage resources can also “influence many of our life decisions and to guide behavior to improve our lives.” Everyone draws on what resources are available to them, including money, relationships, and time, when making decisions. Bankoski breaks the decision process down into five stages: “pause,” “learn,” “act,” “correct,” “control,” and “confess.” After one’s resources are depleted without success, one must admit failure and begin the process again, she says. But although failure is seen by most as something to avoid, Bankoski views it as a key part of the Choice Cycle and a necessary prerequisite to joy, which comes when one finally recognizes “that there are new opportunities for success.” The author’s effort to redefine failure in a positive light, while not unique, may cheer readers who become discouraged when things don’t work out in their lives. In her introduction, she frames her book as a general self-help guide for people looking to improve their lives, but at times, it reads more like a resource for managers and business owners, as when the author points out that “Organizations function best when the vision, mission, and values are written to be clear to all, shared and understood.” The illustrations, while helpful in visualizing the different parts of the Choice Cycle, also look very much like a PowerPoint presentation. More concrete examples of people achieving “joy after failure” would have been welcome as well. However, Bankoski hits her stride in the final chapter, when she makes an impassioned call for people to band together to change old habits and end old prejudices.

A slim book with an encouraging take on failure that might have benefited from the inclusion of more actionable advice.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-973637-00-4

Page Count: 67

Publisher: Westbow Press

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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