A well-researched, dramatic rags-to-riches urban tale.

MAKING MONTE CARLO

A HISTORY OF SPECULATION AND SPECTACLE

A story of how one city attained spectacular wealth and luxury.

In his first book, about “how we create places largely through the stories we tell about them,” Braude (History and Urban Studies/Stanford Univ.) takes us on a brisk historical tour of the marketing and selling of the small principality of Monaco and its famous city. At just under 500 acres, about half the size of Central Park, it had few resources, but it did have a beautiful mountain setting and a majestic Mediterranean harbor. After being tossed around by the Greeks, Romans, and various tribes, it finally became Monaco in 1297. In 1855, when Princess Caroline decided it might find success with a casino, Prince Florestan legalized gambling—the only country along Europe’s southern coast to do so. When it added a spa resort as a “façade,” it was ready to welcome the world to gambling. After the casino license was sold to the Blanc brothers, successful entrepreneurs from Germany, they had the municipality’s name changed to Monte Carlo. They opened Le Grand Casino de Monte Carlo in 1858, and François Blanc did a masterful job of publicizing it, especially via international newspaper print advertising. People first experienced the resort “from a distance, as an abstract idea rather than a reality.” A new railway made the resort’s pleasures easily accessible, and in 1924, Jean Cocteau and Serge Diaghilev’s Le Train bleu added to Monte Carlo’s luster. A sickly Karl Marx, who detested gambling, came because his doctor prescribed it. A famous gambler also came and lost, and the popular song about him, “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo,” added to the resort’s mystique. William Vanderbilt and J.P. Morgan arrived on their yachts, Edvard Munch came to paint, and Oscar Wilde escaped legal woes. A Sporting Club was added, and in 1911, the city had its first Automobile Rally—spectacle indeed.

A well-researched, dramatic rags-to-riches urban tale.

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0969-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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 PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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