A definitive survey of Wal-Mart and the company’s worldview.

THE RETAIL REVOLUTION

HOW WAL-MART CREATED A BRAVE NEW WORLD OF BUSINESS

Comprehensive socioeconomic history of America’s largest corporation.

Wal-Mart employs two million people and operates 6,000 stores, “doing more business than Target, Home Depot, Sears Holdings, Safeway, and Kroger combined.” Historian and Wal-Mart authority Lichtenstein (History/Univ. of California, Santa Barbara; State of the Union: A Century of American Labor, 2003, etc.) writes that its success “has transformed the nature of U.S. employment, sent U.S. manufacturing abroad, and redefined the very meaning of globalization.” The author brilliantly situates his narrative within the context of world history and the global economy, creating a lucid, evenhanded text that often reads like a novel. Relying on scholarly and journalistic sources, including his own reporting and interviews, Liechtenstein reveals how Wal-Mart’s domination of the retail world stems from its ruthless efficiency of distribution and consolidation of control at its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters. He also demonstrates the company’s shrewd use of technological innovation—particularly satellite communications and the now ubiquitous bar code. The author is especially effective in his discussion of the geological and social landscape from which it grew and derived its crucially important and much-emulated corporate culture—the poor, mostly white, rural Ozark Mountains. In this region, women and minorities were discouraged from pursuing social mobility, businesses were hostile toward laws impeding customary labor arrangements—i.e., cheap hourly wages, untenable work schedules and enormously high turnover rates—and the forces of evangelical Christianity, while not officially embraced by Wal-Mart, worked in harmony with its small-town values of family and faith. Lichtenstein paints a convincing portrait of a multinational conglomerate willing to dehumanize people in its pursuit of profit, even as it tries to convince us that people are its No. 1 concern.

A definitive survey of Wal-Mart and the company’s worldview.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8050-7966-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2009

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

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

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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