For business readers, this insider’s tale informs and entertains.


Saving Investa


A retired CEO weaves memoir, management philosophy, and career advice in this well-crafted debut.

MacDonald, a specialist in corporate real estate, draws the title from his capstone assignment—rescuing Australia’s largest property company, Investa, from collapse during the global financial crisis. His saga began in 2008, six months after Morgan Stanley took Investa private in an ill-timed, highly leveraged $6.5 billion buyout. He accepted a six-month stint in Australia that turned into five years of organizational scrambling and nick-of-time refinancing to avoid insolvency. He saved the company but lost his marriage. Alternating chapters backfill his biography, connecting decisions at Investa with lessons from his hardscrabble childhood, teenage factory jobs, college struggles, military service, and “globe-trotting” rise to the boardroom. MacDonald turns the same eye for detail that scrutinized balance sheets to rendering scenes. The volume of tangential, personal details could have shrunk his potential readership to his grandchildren, but he is an adept storyteller with a colorful past. Poignant, well-told recollections keep the reader engaged. MacDonald’s writing, like the management style he chronicles, is deliberate and nuanced, not flashy. Understatement and pacing magnify inherent tensions, as in a passage describing three executives awaiting a bank decision on renewing a $650 million loan: “The loan would mature the next day. I asked Jonathan at exactly what time; after checking the documents, he told me 11 a.m. No one had ever asked him before at precisely what time of day a loan matured.” MacDonald draws his characters concisely. A chief financial officer is “a quiet guy, the type who knew all the answers but was reticent to disclose any.” An Australian banker speaks in “an earthy vernacular, reflecting his early days as a union organizer and Labor Party activist.” In closing, he summarizes 25 key lessons, emphasizing teamwork, ethics, win-win solutions, decentralized decision-making, open communications, and respecting workers. None are entirely original, but his life experiences elevate platitudes to practical guidance. MacDonald puts a compassionate face on the CEO stereotype and reveals real people, not caricatures, caught in the executive-suite dramas spawned by the financial crisis.

For business readers, this insider’s tale informs and entertains.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68102-080-8

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Next Century Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.


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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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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