A superbly reported book marred only by an occasionally wandering narrative.

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GREAT AMERICAN OUTPOST

DREAMERS, MAVERICKS, AND THE MAKING OF AN OIL FRONTIER

Newspaper journalist Rao travels to remote western North Dakota to immerse herself in the boom-and-bust cycle of shale oil extraction.

For more than a decade, the dangers of fracking—drilling deep into the Earth to extract shale oil using massive amounts of water and chemicals—have been widely reported: environmental degradation, earthquakes, outsized profits for the oil industry, lost savings for individuals scammed by get-rich-quick schemes, negatively transformed local economies, and deaths of itinerant oil field workers as well as local residents. Portions of Oklahoma, Texas, and Pennsylvania have received huge amounts of attention during the debates about fracking, but North Dakota, one of the most remote, frigid, and least populous of the 50 states, has been affected more heavily than any other. To understand the real situation among competing claims, Rao arrived from out of state, established a working relationship with a truck driver trying to earn a better living than he could in North Carolina, developed numerous other sources, lived in costly but substandard housing, existed on low-quality food, and placed herself in physical danger almost every day, emerging with an eye-opening, occasionally scattershot, “on-the-ground account of capitalism, industrialization, and rugged individualism” as well as “the power and failings of free enterprise.” At some level, almost everybody involved in the business understood that the boom economy would collapse eventually, but the author found few who predicted that the bust would arrive in less than a decade. As a result, local businesses went broke, temporary environmental scarring became permanent, and western North Dakota became less desirable than ever as a place to settle, especially given the harsh weather and downturn in agriculture. Rao occasionally injects herself into the story, but the truck driver who freely shared his adventures rightly dominates the book.

A superbly reported book marred only by an occasionally wandering narrative.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-61039-646-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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