A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.

PROPHETIC CITY

HOUSTON ON THE CUSP OF A CHANGING AMERICA

A veteran sociologist maps nearly four decades of changes in an urban “bellwether of change.”

“Houston is America on demographic fast-forward,” Klineberg argues in a trailblazing study that draws on 38 years of annual surveys of residents’ views by the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, of which the author is the founding director. His strongest evidence includes the “entropy index,” or “how close a given population comes to having equal fourths of Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and Anglos.” As the author notes, “by that measure, the Houston region is virtually tied with the New York metro for the diversity crown.” Yet as the city has predicted and reflected the American shift toward a more multiethnic society, it embodies the nation’s paradoxes. An anti-government, pro-business city, Houston elected the first openly lesbian mayor of a major American city, Annise Parker, in 2009, but voted against guaranteeing equal rights for the LGBTQ community in 2015. The city remains “profoundly segregated,” marked by growing income and educational inequalities. Underlying such realities are region-specific variations on national concerns such as crime, pollution, immigration, traffic congestion, and climate and economic uncertainties. Built on a swampy, bayou-laced, Gulf Coast floodplain, the city is vulnerable to devastating storms like Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and it has an industrial base in petrochemicals, raising “the question of how much longer oil and gas can sustain the Houston economy” as people turn to alternate energy sources. Although perhaps too optimistic in his conclusion that Houstonians can help to build “a truly successful universal city and nation, the first of its kind in human history,” Klineberg supports his case with a wealth of survey research, interviews with experts, and user-friendly graphs, all of which make this book invaluable for anyone seeking a deep understanding of an underappreciated city.

A unique blend of analysis and research that is likely to become a classic work of scholarship on Houston.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7791-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

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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Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

WILLIE NELSON'S LETTERS TO AMERICA

An epistolary grab bag of memories, lyrics, jokes, and homespun philosophy from the legendary musician.

As an indefatigable touring artist, Nelson (b. 1933) has had a lot of time on his hands during the pandemic. Following his collaboration with his sister, Me and Sister Bobbie, the road warrior offers a loose collection of lessons from a full life. If you’ve never read a book by or about Nelson, this one—characteristically conversational, inspirational, wise, funny, and meandering—is a good place to start. The book is filled with lyrics to many of his best-known songs, most of which he wrote but others that he has made his own as well. For those steeped in The Tao of Willie (2006), some of the stories will be as familiar as the songs—e.g., the origin story of his nicknames, including Booger Red and Shotgun Willie; his time as a DJ and a door-to-door Bible and encyclopedia salesman; early struggles in Nashville with “all the record executives who only see music as a bottom-line endeavor”; and return to his home state of Texas. Many of the personal stories about family and friends can be found in Me and Sister Bobbie, but they are good stories from a rich life, one of abundance for which Nelson remains profoundly grateful. So he gives thanks in the form of letters: to Texas, America, God, golf, and marijuana; the audiences who have supported him and the band that has had his back; those who have played any part in Farm Aid or his annual Fourth of July concert bashes; and departed friends and deceased heroes, one of whom, Will Rogers, answers him back. Nelson even addresses one to Covid-19, which looms over this book, making the author itchy and antsy. Even at 87, he can’t wait to be on the road again.

Another amiable book that is just what you’d expect from Willie.

Pub Date: June 29, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7852-4154-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Horizon

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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