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EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE

FIRST LOVES AND LAST TALES

Balanced and insightful, this valedictory collection offers a fine coda to a remarkable life and career.

The acclaimed neurologist and author’s spaciousness of mind, humanity, and attachment to all life has its last showcase in this posthumously published collection.

Assembled here are a wealth of previously published and unreleased pieces by the gifted neurologist (1933-2015), justly called the “poet laureate of science.” As in most of his books, Sacks (The River of Consciousness, 2017, etc.) includes clinical case studies from his medical practice. There is an unusually intriguing discussion of the many sides of Tourette's syndrome as well as a detailed analysis of the misleadingly named “bi-polar” disorder. While underscoring the physician's role in some of the most intimate decisions of a patient's life, the author discusses the aging brain; mania as a biological rather than psychological condition; the various manifestations of dementia; and the folly of a “premature sense of impotence and doom” that can accompany a diagnosis of Alzheimer's. In a lighter vein, Sacks discusses his early fascination with fossil botany and chemistry. He also offers odes to libraries, swimming, museums, the necessity of gardens, and the majesty of the ginkgo. His disquisitions extend further to the ancient building blocks of cyanobacteria and the evolution of earthlike planets, the premonitory power of dreams, photography's transformation of the way we perceive movement and the world, and the hallucinatory nature of out-of-body and near-death experiences, states that are far from supernatural in origin but rather “part of the normal range of human consciousness and experience.” Among the many scientists and writers whose oft-forgotten work he praises (sometimes to excess), his essay on pioneering British chemist and poet Humphry Davy is particularly edifying. In the last days of his life, Sacks offered strong lamentations about the book as an endangered species and the loss of civility in an age of cellphones and social media.

Balanced and insightful, this valedictory collection offers a fine coda to a remarkable life and career.

Pub Date: April 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-49289-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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