Could be viewed by some as puffery but a corporate story well-told and not without substance.




A debut book examines a company that, despite a ubiquitous product line, remains hidden from public view.

Except for its business customers, it is likely millions of people whose lives are touched by Whitford Worldwide are unaware of the company. But the 50-year-old industrial manufacturer’s fluoropolymer coatings are used on products around the globe, from frying pans and automobile engines to athletic socks. While this volume is essentially a largely flattering corporate profile funded by the company, it is still an engaging story that demonstrates how to triumph in a competitive technical market. Early on, Tedeschi involves the reader: “As you walk from room to room in your house, Whitford is the silent partner in your daily routine,” a claim not overstated, since the company’s coatings are found on numerous consumer products. Remarkably, Whitford employs fewer than 700 workers to manufacture some 9,000 individual products, many of which are customized to the specific needs of customers. This level of complexity alone makes for a unique extended case study. The company has even managed to compete in both industrial and consumer sectors with the likes of the giant corporation DuPont. Embedded in the intriguing, if subjective, book are some of the key reasons for the company’s success, characterized by the author as the “Whitford Way.” Among them are a drive to continuously innovate, highly personalized customer service, and a flat organization with individual contributors and no vice presidents. Tedeschi uses anecdotes, examples, and quotes to keep the narrative moving along, though some of the technical details are dry. But perhaps the most captivating aspect of the work is simply the incredible range of Whitford’s products and its ability to meet such a wide variety of needs. An Epilogue appended by company co-founder David P. Willis is also of particular interest; here, Willis details the “unconventional points of view” that have helped formulate the Whitford Way. Aspiring entrepreneurs as well as business leaders would do well to consider his thoughts.

Could be viewed by some as puffery but a corporate story well-told and not without substance.

Pub Date: March 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5391-7922-1

Page Count: 306

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

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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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Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to...

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A French academic serves up a long, rigorous critique, dense with historical data, of American-style predatory capitalism—and offers remedies that Karl Marx might applaud.

Economist Piketty considers capital, in the monetary sense, from the vantage of what he considers the capital of the world, namely Paris; at times, his discussions of how capital works, and especially public capital, befit Locke-ian France and not Hobbesian America, a source of some controversy in the wide discussion surrounding his book. At heart, though, his argument turns on well-founded economic principles, notably r > g, meaning that the “rate of return on capital significantly exceeds the growth rate of the economy,” in Piketty’s gloss. It logically follows that when such conditions prevail, then wealth will accumulate in a few hands faster than it can be broadly distributed. By the author’s reckoning, the United States is one of the leading nations in the “high inequality” camp, though it was not always so. In the colonial era, Piketty likens the inequality quotient in New England to be about that of Scandinavia today, with few abject poor and few mega-rich. The difference is that the rich now—who are mostly the “supermanagers” of business rather than the “superstars” of sports and entertainment—have surrounded themselves with political shields that keep them safe from the specter of paying more in taxes and adding to the fund of public wealth. The author’s data is unassailable. His policy recommendations are considerably more controversial, including his call for a global tax on wealth. From start to finish, the discussion is written in plainspoken prose that, though punctuated by formulas, also draws on a wide range of cultural references.

Essential reading for citizens of the here and now. Other economists should marvel at how that plain language can be put to work explaining the most complex of ideas, foremost among them the fact that economic inequality is at an all-time high—and is only bound to grow worse.

Pub Date: March 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-674-43000-6

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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