Contains numerous interesting tidbits, but lacks cohesion—an unpredictable change of pace from the typical contemporary Wall...

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THE LAST OF THE IMPERIOUS RICH

LEHMAN BROTHERS, 1844-2008

A meandering chronicle of a remarkable immigrant family that built a powerful Wall Street investment firm, then lost it.

Financial Times contributor Chapman finds the Lehman enterprise fascinating. The fascination, however, is not grounded in investigative reporting but rather in group biography. Since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, journalists and industry insiders have published countless exposés. Chapman, however, devotes less than ten percent of the book to the events leading to the Lehman demise. The author begins in 1844, when Henry Lehman arrived by ship in New York City from a German region rife with anti-Semitism and political oppression. Two younger siblings followed, and they joined in business at Lehman Brothers. They did not start in New York City, however; rather, they pursued a plan to make money in the pre–Civil War cotton economy of the South, specifically Montgomery, Ala. The shift to Wall Street came gradually. Chapman focuses as much on the political, economic and social forces across the United States and Europe as on the business of investment banking and on individual members of the extended Lehman clan. The author’s life-and-times technique means dizzying shifts in time. Other than the three founding Lehman brothers, the most deeply drawn characters are Herbert, who served as New York State governor and a U.S. senator; and Robert (better known as Bobbie), who ran the Wall Street operation with a certain flair but also enjoyed spending money on rare art, antiques and other expensive items. In his relatively brief account of the Lehman Brothers demise, Chapman contrasts the integrity of the founders with the loose business morals of successors. Referring back to Henry’s arrival in the United States, the author writes, “Lehman Brothers died when over 150 years later a once proud institution was caught peddling junk to the world.”

Contains numerous interesting tidbits, but lacks cohesion—an unpredictable change of pace from the typical contemporary Wall Street scandal tome.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-59184-309-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2010

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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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