Perhaps too mercenary for some, but when implemented properly, the mostly sound principles can lead to financial stability...




Using the principles of Sun Tzu, the ancient general and military tactician, Cheung draws parallels between military and financial strategies.

Selected excerpts and quotes attributed to Sun Tzu provide the basis of Cheung’s suggested strategies for financial success. Just as a military leader must observe the cycles of heaven and Earth, so should the financial planner observe economic cycles and plan accordingly. The end result is a presentation of conventional wisdoms offered from an unconventional point of view which briefly covers a wide range of some well-known, basic financial skills: Don’t spend more than you earn; don’t accumulate debt; try to do work that you love; invest wisely and plan ahead for retirement. Some strategies relate to personal finances, such as building individual savings, choosing individual investments, and completing a personal analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT). Other strategies are used to discuss finances at a higher level, such as getting to know the strengths and weaknesses of business competitors and using them to an advantage. Some of the relationships between Sun Tzu’s principles and finance aren’t clearly made; for instance, Sun Tzu advised that “All conflicts are based on deception,” but for Cheung, deception “often involves possessing an asset your competition lacks and using it in surprising ways.” Examples include the protection of intellectual property and proprietary information, which might better be categorized as defense against industrial piracy rather than deceit. Other pieces of advice drawn from war-based parallels may not sit well with everyone, such as the section devoted to the use of spies and the advice to cultivate relationships with a competitor’s administrative assistants in order to gain access to information and the competitor’s leadership. While the generally sound strategies follow tried-and-true methods for achieving success, the challenge is often in the details, which are sometimes left unaddressed. Diversifying skills is always good advice, but the suggestion to “go back to school…or begin a new career” may come across as blithe and superficial to someone who can’t pay for classes.

Perhaps too mercenary for some, but when implemented properly, the mostly sound principles can lead to financial stability and success.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1480089006

Page Count: 212

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.


A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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