by Michael Newton ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2003
Fascinating tales, analyzed at times to excess.
British professor Newton vents a ten-year obsession, stemming from his Ph.D. dissertation, by examining six celebrated cases of so-called feral children.
Romulus and Remus, legendary founders of Rome, are seen by the author as emblematic of the mythic mystery surrounding stories of infants supposedly nurtured in the wild by animals. But not all feral children were raised by wolves: the lost and abandoned, those stuffed into closets, pigsties, or henhouses for years on end by abusive or psychotic “guardians” all initially present society with the same tragic and, it seems, irresistibly exploitable circumstances. In some of the cases Newton delves into, the discovered child could not speak and never fully acquired language; in others, the facility remained from earlier childhood and almost inevitably led to charges of fraud and duplicity that, in the end, transmuted one kind of suffering into another. All of these stories (and others mentioned in passing) are intrinsically fascinating, but the author leans toward intellectual meandering that can take the edge off his revelations. In the case of Peter, the 18th-century “wild boy” brought to England from Germany, for example, Newton’s speculations on the involvement of writers Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe and their reflections on the matter consume entire pages. He touches a nerve, however, in summing up the stark fact that in almost all of these instances, spanning several centuries to the present day, no one could be found who would simply care for the lost child without serving some vested interest. Thankfully, that we get a seemingly happy ending for contemporary wild child Ivan Mishukov, whose story appears in the beginning. The four-year-old Muscovite, who took to the streets in 1996 with a pack of dogs that actually kept the cops at bay while he stole food from restaurant kitchens and eventually “promoted” him to pack leader, is now back in school and progressing normally.Fascinating tales, analyzed at times to excess.
Pub Date: March 1, 2003
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003
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by David Grann ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2017
New York Times Bestseller
National Book Award Finalist
Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.
During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Daniel Kahneman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 1, 2011
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
Page Count: 512
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2011
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011
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