An orderly, winning book from the economist whose Volcker Rule limits risk-taking by banks.

KEEPING AT IT

THE QUEST FOR SOUND MONEY AND GOOD GOVERNMENT

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve describes the “challenge and satisfactions of public service” and laments the “breakdown” of effective governance in the United States.

In this thoughtful memoir, Volcker (co-author: Changing Fortunes, 1992), now 91, reflects on his lifelong dedication to good government, sparked during his comfortable Depression-era childhood in Teaneck, New Jersey, where his engineer-father was city manager. The grandson of German immigrants, Volcker studied at Princeton and Harvard before bringing his need for a “sense of order” to a lengthy career with the Treasury Department and the Fed, which he chaired from 1979 to 1987. He devotes much of the book to his high-level involvement in money matters from domestic finance to international banking, including behind-the-scenes stories about the relationship between the independent Fed and the administration in power. The author includes lengthy accounts of his actions on financial and monetary policy, the handling of financial crises (Chrysler and Latin American debt), and the recurrent challenge of inflation. Despite satisfying teaching stints there, he faults Princeton for its present failure to offer “effective education for public service.” Too many new graduates are interested only in large starting salaries. Volcker is sharply disappointed by Americans’ current distrust of government and institutions, from public education to a free press: “The once honored phrase ‘good government’ is now viewed as an oxymoron.” He continues later, “the rising tide of progress toward open democratic societies—the world in which I have lived and served—seems to be ebbing away.” In 2013, the author created the Volcker Alliance to rebuild trust in government. Amid recollections of his roles under several presidents, he also conveys personal enthusiasms (the Dodgers) and his gratitude to Princeton, both for making possible his senior thesis on the Fed and for an art class that allowed him to identify the Cezanne in David Rockefeller’s office restroom at Chase Manhattan.

An orderly, winning book from the economist whose Volcker Rule limits risk-taking by banks.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5417-8831-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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