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



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


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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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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