More sensationalistic than historically relevant.

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THE QUEEN'S OBSESSION: "THE FORBIDDEN AFFAIR"

Rieder (Millboro and More, 2007) uses data collected during hypnotherapy sessions in an effort to reconstruct historical events. 

In this Jungian spin on a historical enigma, Rieder explores Queen Christina of Sweden’s life via the details that her patient Marcia recalled while under hypnosis. Rieder posits that Marcia was the Queen of Sweden in a past life, and to offer some proof of this Rieder says, “The ability to comprehend and answer correctly questions posed to her [in] both Swedish and French would have been impossible to stage, as Marcia knows neither language.” The author acknowledges that the historical validity of the information is “extremely controversial,” and she departs from the story of Christina to defend hypnosis and inherited memory. The author includes a discussion of separate case studies demonstrating how pairs of twins were affected by past-life memories. The information, however, is overly technical and detracts from the book’s focus. Rieder accurately portrays Christina’s multidimensional character and renders in detail her tumultuous life, including an assassination attempt: “While the congregation was engaged in prayer and everyone had their heads bowed, the man slipped through the crowd to a small dais where the queen was kneeling. One of the officials spotted him and shouted to the guards, who immediately crossed their halberds, blocking the way.” The book’s strength is in Rieder’s portrayal of history rather than her account of the psychological study. Marcia’s responses are often superficial and always seem coached. Later, Rieder uses dubious information to prove that Christina may have hidden an illegitimate pregnancy; Marcia’s wavering responses make the claim seem more sensational than realistic. In the last several chapters, the narrative grows confusing and repetitive as the author skips around chronologically and reiterates the same ideas. While the complex story of Queen Christina is an attention grabber, Rieder’s use of Marcia’s past-life regression to tell that story drains some of its dramatic power.

More sensationalistic than historically relevant. 

Pub Date: June 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1463788377

Page Count: 256

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2012

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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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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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