An alum's inept attempt to discredit an unusually inviting target: Adolph Coors Co. Burgess (Marketing/University of Denver) worked for the Colorado-based brewer (whose proprietors are notable for, among other matters, their high-profile support of politically incorrect causes) as a marketing research analyst from 1985 to 1988. Drawing mainly on his experiences in this comparatively low-level post, he offers what's apparently meant to be an antic account of a macho gang that couldn't shoot straight in its campaigns to best Budweiser, Miller, and other rivals in the so-called ``beer wars'' of the 1980's. Burgess's audit is also informed by a more serious purpose: to make the embattled but consistently profitable Coors a paradigm for the putative shortcomings of corporate America. But all too soon, the smart-alecky text falls flat between the twin peaks of the author's vaulting ambitions. Apart from a bent for gratuitously likening the strategy and tactics of Coors management to those of Nazi Germany's leaders, Burgess can't keep his story straight. The episodic narrative lurches back and forth in time, covering events before, during, and after his tenure without ever achieving focus or impact. While the author's points about the company's failure to develop viable new products have merit, for example, they're lost in a welter of ad hominem observations about associates or superiors identified largely by puerile nicknames- -``Captain Kangaroo,'' ``Mumbles,'' ``Preacher,'' ``Silver Fox,'' ``Valley Girl,'' et al. The same holds true for Burgess's personal involvement in efforts to probe the attitudes of blacks, gays, and other disaffected constituencies. The author seems far more interested in railing against the presumptive bigotry, conservatism, and homophobia of corporate executives than in exploring their willingness to adapt to commercial realities. Nor does he seem to have noticed that, though Coors is a nominally public enterprise, no investors other than founding-family members hold voting stock. A book that gives new meaning to the phrase ``beer bust.''

Pub Date: May 20, 1993

ISBN: 0-312-09251-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...


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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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