Dig it.

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DIG INFINITY!

THE LIFE AND ART OF LORD BUCKLEY

The be-boppingest biography!

Not many biographies need instructions for the reader, but Trager (The American Book of the Dead, not reviewed) has mixed together so many voices in this eclectic survey of jazzman Lord Buckley’s life and career that he must begin with an “Author’s Note on Concept and Format.” Here the reader learns to distinguish among fonts and their purposes: 9-point Helvetica indicates “traditional biographical overview and integrating commentary”; 9-point Times Europa roman highlights passages of oral history, whereas 9-point Times Europa italic introduces that speaker; and 9-point Courier Bold acts as the scrapbook font, mimicking the style and spirit of newsprint. These excessive instructions may appear daunting at first, but the fumbling of fonts miraculously breathes a very jazzy sophistication and syncopation into this compendious array of celebratory voices all in awe and homage to the Lord. Retelling the stories of luminaries from Jesus to the Marquis de Sade in a mix of scat, rap, and the King’s English, Buckley left an indelible impression on America’s musical landscape and influenced such artists as Charlie Parker, Elvis Presley, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, and Jerry Garcia. Paying due attention to the necessary details of biography, Trager traces the trajectory of Lord Buckley’s rise to prominence (and his fall into obscurity after his death in 1960) with a careful eye, but the real joy of this account can be found in the many voices recreating the electricity of Buckley’s life and times. The volume concludes with three appendices: a discography and filmography of Buckley’s work, a bibliography and list of sources, and a cast-of-characters index. A CD-compilation of Buckley’s most sensational recordings (not available for review) is also included.

Dig it.

Pub Date: July 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56649-156-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2001

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

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

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 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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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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