An interesting disquisition on a small moment that would loom large in Freud’s imagination.

A thoughtful riff on Sigmund Freud’s brief 1915 essay “On Transience,” in which he considers death and mourning.

Von Unwerth, director of the Abraham A. Brill Library of The New York Psychoanalytic Institute & Society, takes us back to 1913 when Freud began a brief relationship with poet Rainer Maria Rilke, a meeting that occasioned “On Transience” (text appears in appendix). After a brief account of the meeting with Rilke, von Unwerth traces the careers of both men—and of their mutual friendship with Lou Andreas-Salomé, who met Rilke in 1897 and who became his lover and confidant in the ensuing years. Fifteen years older than Rilke, Andreas-Salomé broke with him in 1900 but remained a potent figure in his life and imagination. Rilke came to resist a friendship with Freud—and with psychoanalysis. Andreas-Salomé, in fact, dissuaded Rilke from therapy, fearing that treatment might exorcise the very demons that animated his art. Von Unwerth is an unabashed fan of Freud, so seldom is heard a discouraging word in this exploration of Freud’s ideas. We learn that the famed psychoanalyst was an “Oxfordian” who believed that Edward de Vere, the 16th Earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespeare’s plays, and that he was influenced greatly by philosopher Friedrich Schiller. Writes von Unwerth: “For Freud, as for Schiller, poetry and life were bound together inescapably in time. It is eternity, and the “eternal” nature of art, that is illusory. What gives both meaning, sense, and vitality is the certainty of death.” Concerned throughout with issues of mortality, the author offers details of the deaths of his principals and reminds us that Freud had 31 painful surgeries on his face to retard the cancer that would have killed him had not his physician administered, near the end, a merciful overdose of morphine.

An interesting disquisition on a small moment that would loom large in Freud’s imagination.

Pub Date: July 7, 2005

ISBN: 1-57322-247-X

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005



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



These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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