A busy yet passionately motivating call for action.

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MOVE

PUTTING AMERICA'S INFRASTRUCTURE BACK IN THE LEAD

Harvard Business School professor and prolific author Kanter (SuperCorp: How Vanguard Companies Create Innovation, Profits, Growth, and Social Good, 2009) examines the degrading conditions and increasing inefficiency of American transportation networks.

Following an exhaustive, 20-month survey of our nation’s stalled mobility provisions, the author’s results proved to expand beyond the widely known theory that America has “coasted on past successes, failed to fully confront mounting problems, lacked sufficient vision about future opportunities, and, in Congress, held essential funding hostage to partisan battles over taxes.” At this point, the United States is lagging behind other international hubs boasting fast-tracked advancements in rail engineering, solar power, automotive excellence, and aerospace innovation. Kanter admits that although her perspective is primarily rooted in the public interest, it’s also personal: on a local scale, transportation issues like bridge collapses, flight delays, and chronic rail and roadway gridlock affect most of the planet’s population to varying degrees. She draws reactions and creative solutions from an exhaustive array of engineers, business professionals, politicians, and innovators, all complemented by pages of often startling statistics and insightful interviews, many with women who have become distinguished leaders in the robotics, logistics, and public transportation fields. Kanter, whose previous books have addressed corporate competitiveness and digital culture, argues that the main issue hindering American innovation in public transit is a stifling combination of corporate underinvestment and a lack of “faith in government.” There is an urgent need to “allocate public money for public works at a national level” and to empower leadership at the grass-roots level. Her accessible solutions encompass sophisticated, futuristic tools and incremental changes toward increasing efficiency while boosting public enthusiasm and cooperation. Though some readers may find the sheer volume of ideas daunting, the author’s intent remains clear: to inspire and promote participation in the development of America’s mobility infrastructure and elevate it to the forefront of the global innovation marketplace.

A busy yet passionately motivating call for action.

Pub Date: May 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-393-24680-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

REIMAGINING CAPITALISM IN A WORLD ON FIRE

A well-constructed critique of an economic system that, by the author’s account, is a driver of the world’s destruction.

Harvard Business School professor Henderson vigorously questions the bromide that “management’s only duty is to maximize shareholder value,” a notion advanced by Milton Friedman and accepted uncritically in business schools ever since. By that logic, writes the author, there is no reason why corporations should not fish out the oceans, raise drug prices, militate against public education (since it costs tax money), and otherwise behave ruinously and anti-socially. Many do, even though an alternative theory of business organization argues that corporations and society should enjoy a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit, which includes corporate investment in what economists call public goods. Given that the history of humankind is “the story of our increasing ability to cooperate at larger and larger scales,” one would hope that in the face of environmental degradation and other threats, we might adopt the symbiotic model rather than the winner-take-all one. Problems abound, of course, including that of the “free rider,” the corporation that takes the benefits from collaborative agreements but does none of the work. Henderson examines case studies such as a large food company that emphasized environmentally responsible production and in turn built “purpose-led, sustainable living brands” and otherwise led the way in increasing shareholder value by reducing risk while building demand. The author argues that the “short-termism” that dominates corporate thinking needs to be adjusted to a longer view even though the larger problem might be better characterized as “failure of information.” Henderson closes with a set of prescriptions for bringing a more equitable economics to the personal level, one that, among other things, asks us to step outside routine—eat less meat, drive less—and become active in forcing corporations (and politicians) to be better citizens.

A readable, persuasive argument that our ways of doing business will have to change if we are to prosper—or even survive.

Pub Date: May 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5417-3015-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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