Döpfner issues a sharp warning about the danger of appeasement and charts an alternative path forward.

When high-minded rhetoric about trade meets dictators, the dictators always win.

The idea that trading with a country ruled by a dictator will lead toward democracy has always been flawed. Döpfner, CEO of the Berlin-based Axel Springer SE, a global media and tech company, notes that there is even a common German phrase for it: “wandel durch handel,” meaning “change through trade.” The main problem with this concept is that it does nothing but embolden the dictator. In this book, the author focuses mostly on China, but he also offers plenty of insight on Russia and how the invasion of Ukraine altered the geopolitical landscape. In fact, it was the willingness of Western companies and governments to continue trading with Russia after the takeover of Crimea that made Putin think that there would be no consequences for further aggression. Döpfner notes that the situation with China was even worse, with American and European companies rushing in when China joined the World Trade Organization, willfully ignoring the long catalog of human rights abuses and Xi Jinping’s authoritarian rule. By the time the real costs were realized, there was a high degree of enmeshment—although in the past few years, some companies have started to withdraw. Dictatorships often use the language of free trade while manipulating the rules for their own benefit, and for this reason, Döpfner argues strongly against the WTO, suggesting a new alliance based on the rule of law, human rights, and sustainability measures. Tariffs would be applied to countries that reject these principles. It’s an intriguing idea, but the details would be tricky. The author punctuates the book with accounts of his meetings with leaders such as Putin, Helmut Kohl, and German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock. He presents a clear-minded, thought-provoking book, and he pulls no punches.

Döpfner issues a sharp warning about the danger of appeasement and charts an alternative path forward.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023

ISBN: 9781668016251

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023


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. 3, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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