Eye-opening, insightful, and filled with practical advice about office jerks.



An organizational consultant highlights unsavory characters found in the workplace.

Carnachan’s well-organized, exhaustive study of “Jerketypes” is simultaneously unsettling and reassuring. The fact that she can identify so many jerks in the workplace may be disturbing, but her reasoned counsel for how to cope with them should have a calming effect on most readers. The author applies her decades of experience as both an employee and a coach/consultant to identify nine broad types of jerks, breaking them down into subsets. Some of them, such as “The Narcissistic Jerk,” seem more dangerous than others, like “The Jokester Jerk,” but all of them are worthy of exploration. In each chapter, Carnachan identifies the characteristics of one type of jerk and offers detailed suggestions for dealing with the culprit. The author covers interactions with difficult or exasperating individuals who may be bosses, co-workers, or subordinates. Carnachan includes richly described anecdotes that appropriately illustrate the behavior of each Jerketype. Several of these vignettes are drawn from the author’s coaching experience. For example, in discussing the “Gang Leader,” one form of Narcissistic Jerk, the author relates the story of Samantha, a skilled worker who “was an absolute misery for her manager, Ashley, because of her sarcastic and critical comments about management.” Carnachan explains how she worked with Ashley to create a “performance improvement plan” for Samantha, who, it turns out, eventually resigned. “Lesson learned,” writes the author. “Ashley appointed a new lead from her existing staff who had excellent interpersonal skills and good technical skills.” These illustrative tales enrich the book and make for engaging reading. There is also an opportunity for self-reflection using worksheets included by Carnachan and designed to identify if readers might be Jerketypes. A chapter called “When the Jerk Is a Toxic Work Culture” discusses workplaces more broadly, defining several typical dysfunctional cultures and potential actions to take. A closing chapter reinforces a key overarching theme: “Remember that the only person you can change is you and what you say and do really does affect others.”

Eye-opening, insightful, and filled with practical advice about office jerks.

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64742-369-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: She Writes Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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