The rise and rise of the Disney empire's fortunes under the reign of chairman Michael Eisner—recounted thoroughly, competently, and with a minimum of fairy dust by Grover, L.A. Bureau Chief for Business Week. Walt wouldn't have approved of what had become of his company by the early 1980's, when its vault full of film classics, three top theme-parks, instantly recognizable name, and 28,000 Florida acres languished, virtually unexploited by a management team concerned only with maintaining the status quo. With corporate raiders Saul Steinberg, Irwin Jacobs, and Michael Milken contemplating a takeover in 1984, Disney management was forced to place a large block of company stock in the relatively friendly hands of Texan magnates Sid Bass and his three brothers. As Disney's largest shareholder, the Bass Brothers were quick to see Paramount Wunderkind Michael Eisner installed as Disney's new chairman and creative force, and Frank Wells, a Hollywood lawyer and tightfisted businessman, as president and holder of the company's purse strings. This creative/practical duo. a modern- day re-creation of Walt and Roy Disney, proved the perfect antidote to years of corporate stagnation. Through a combination of luck (an entertainment industry on the rebound, new markets for home video and cable, and a baby boomlet ripe for Disney exploitation) and business acumen (Eisner's show business experience, his enthusiasm for Disney's enormous potential and ability to act on it aggressively, as well as Wells's willingness to appear miserly, opportunistic and just plain petty), the new ``Team Disney'' turned a chronic underachiever into an international entertainment giant whose earnings increased eightfold over six breathtaking years. Grover tells this rags-to- riches tale with admirable evenhandedness, allowing comments from those on whose toes Disney has trod while providing enough play- by-play business reportage to inspire many a starry-eyed potential reader. A commendably researched tale of corporate dreams come true.

Pub Date: May 1, 1991

ISBN: 1-55623-385-X

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1991

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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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Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.


“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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