An engaging, well-organized overview of California’s efforts to preserve its environment.



An assessment of California’s progress in strengthening environmental regulations over several decades.

In this debut policy book, Peevey and Wittenberg draw on their time overseeing state agencies (Peevey is the former president of the California Public Utilities Commission; Wittenberg is the current chair of the California State Parks and Recreation Commission) to offer an inside perspective on the development of environmental regulations under both Democratic and Republican leadership. The book explores California’s unique experience with smog and resulting efforts to clean the air, the success of cap-and-trade policies, solar energy subsidies, and “subnational” climate agreements as well as the broader impact the state’s regulations have because of the size of its economy. Peevey and Wittenberg explain the details of energy deregulation and mismanagement that led to power shortages in the early 2000s and ultimately to the recall of Gov. Gray Davis, although they focus on the policy decisions rather than the political maneuvering. Appendices provide the full text of a report on the electric industry co-authored by Peevey in 2001, a conceptual design for the energy grid, and a 2003 action plan. The book is a useful tool for those interested in the inner workings of government, as Peevey and Wittenberg are conscientious about drawing attention to the lesser-known officials who played crucial roles in making and implementing policy decisions. Capsule biographies provide background information about many of the commission chairs, public advocates, and industry leaders who carried out the necessary work of cutting emissions, improving efficiency, and swaying public opinion. The work clearly and concisely distills a complex political topic and highlights the core of California’s success: “The answer has been to convince people that good environmental policies are in their own self-interest.” The occasional arch aside (“Given its constituency, it has also set standards for pool heaters and wine chillers”) brings a human touch to an occasionally dry topic, balancing the authors’ deep understanding of the subject with an engaging tone that makes for a highly readable account of negotiating and incremental change.

An engaging, well-organized overview of California’s efforts to preserve its environment.

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5455-7730-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: LCP Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2017

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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