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CAN'T JUST STOP

AN INVESTIGATION OF COMPULSIONS

Due to Begley's dense explanations of brain science, the book requires close attention at times, but her captivating,...

Science journalist Begley (Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, 2007, etc.) delves into specific types of compulsive behaviors while also positing a grand theory of what links seemingly disparate obsessions.

The main types of obsessive behaviors the author examines include shopping, hoarding of material possessions, constant checking of smartphones, playing video games nonstop, additional quirks that fall into the realm of obsessive-compulsive disorders, hyper-conscientiousness, and hyper do-gooding. What connects those behaviors, Begley suggests, is living with anxiety in contemporary times. Although clinical anxiety can be difficult to measure, the author cites research that it afflicts about one of every five U.S. adults in any given year, about three times the rate of clinically diagnosed depression. Because Begley frames many compulsive behaviors as somewhat logical responses to severe individual anxieties, she does not find the behaviors as worrisome as loved ones of the anxiety-ridden might find them. After all, writes the author, a compulsive response to anxiety can be viewed as a sensible, if exaggerated, coping mechanism. The case studies she provides, sometimes to the point of overkill, can seem alarming. Yet often those compulsions do not directly harm others and partially cure the anxious individuals. Part of the book's fascination can be found in Begley's personal case study, as she gradually shifts her view about compulsive behaviors from frightening to logical. She came to believe that hoarders, video game obsessives, and the like should be considered outliers in American society only to the degree of their behaviors, not the behaviors themselves. Their brains are not broken, she writes. As a result, the extreme behaviors often do not require institutionalization or other such drastic responses.

Due to Begley's dense explanations of brain science, the book requires close attention at times, but her captivating, accessible anecdotes of individual cases lead to unforgettable scenarios.

Pub Date: Feb. 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4767-2582-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2016

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THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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THE CULTURE MAP

BREAKING THROUGH THE INVISIBLE BOUNDARIES OF GLOBAL BUSINESS

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

A helpful guide to working effectively with people from other cultures.

“The sad truth is that the vast majority of managers who conduct business internationally have little understanding about how culture is impacting their work,” writes Meyer, a professor at INSEAD, an international business school. Yet they face a wider array of work styles than ever before in dealing with clients, suppliers and colleagues from around the world. When is it best to speak or stay quiet? What is the role of the leader in the room? When working with foreign business people, failing to take cultural differences into account can lead to frustration, misunderstanding or worse. Based on research and her experiences teaching cross-cultural behaviors to executive students, the author examines a handful of key areas. Among others, they include communicating (Anglo-Saxons are explicit; Asians communicate implicitly, requiring listeners to read between the lines), developing a sense of trust (Brazilians do it over long lunches), and decision-making (Germans rely on consensus, Americans on one decider). In each area, the author provides a “culture map scale” that positions behaviors in more than 20 countries along a continuum, allowing readers to anticipate the preferences of individuals from a particular country: Do they like direct or indirect negative feedback? Are they rigid or flexible regarding deadlines? Do they favor verbal or written commitments? And so on. Meyer discusses managers who have faced perplexing situations, such as knowledgeable team members who fail to speak up in meetings or Indians who offer a puzzling half-shake, half-nod of the head. Cultural differences—not personality quirks—are the motivating factors behind many behavioral styles. Depending on our cultures, we understand the world in a particular way, find certain arguments persuasive or lacking merit, and consider some ways of making decisions or measuring time natural and others quite strange.

These are not hard and fast rules, but Meyer delivers important reading for those engaged in international business.

Pub Date: May 27, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61039-250-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: April 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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