A report that deserves many readers, about matters that deserve many indictments.

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HALLIBURTON’S ARMY

THE LONG, STRANGE TALE OF A PRIVATE, PROFITABLE AND OUT OF CONTROL TEXAS OIL COMPANY

A sordid tale of politics and profiteering, courtesy of the Bush administration and a compliant military.

The Halliburton Corporation, of which Dick Cheney was chief executive before becoming Bush’s vice president, is estimated to have provided more than 720 million meals to American service personnel, driven 400 million miles of convoy missions and made many billions of dollars for its work as the Pentagon’s principal subcontractor. This relationship was born when Cheney, as secretary of defense for George H.W. Bush, came up with a creative-accounting way to comply with a congressional mandate to trim the military budget and privatize a big chunk of the war machine. Whereas during the First Gulf War there was one civilian contractor for every 100 soldiers, writes investigative journalist Chatterjee (Iraq, Inc., 2004), the ratio is now nearly one to one. If Cheney’s maneuvering sounds a little conflict-of-interest–laden, it seems to have bothered no one in Washington until late in the prosecution of the Iraq War. Said one Pentagon whistleblower of the tainted procurement process, no-bid contracting and billions of dollars lost (and billions more earned fraudulently through various schemes), “the interest of a corporation…not the interests of American soldiers or American taxpayers, seemed to be paramount.” Chatterjee documents the malfeasance down to the penny; the book is data-rich and heavily footnoted, to the extent that it reads more like a treatise than a work of narrative journalism. Yet Chatterjee tells intriguing stories alongside the compendia of numbers, dates and names. He documents, without much commentary, some of the ironies that emerge in the Halliburton story, among them Cheney’s machinations to keep Iran open for Halliburton business while loudly putting sanctions in place—and claiming that the Iran hanky-panky was legal because it was conducted “by a foreign-owned subsidiary based in the Cayman Islands.”

A report that deserves many readers, about matters that deserve many indictments.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-56858-392-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Nation Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2008

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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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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