by William L. Silber ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 17, 2021
A brisk look at times when it pays off to take a chance.
Financial history expert Silber recapitulates a course in risk assessment, showing that generals and politicians no less than investors “take daring chances” in the absence of other options.
There are upsides when people are willing to game the chances of “downside protection,” writes former NYU economics professor Silber. For example, patients with terminal illnesses are crucial to the practice of medical experimentation, since many figure they don’t have much to lose. That decision, writes the author, is very much like the star quarterback who throws what Roger Staubach christened “the Hail Mary pass.” Never mind that the risk is turned all the way up. “The Hail Mary connects less than one in twenty times,” writes Silber, “which may be okay at the end of a football game, but not as a steady diet in life.” Yet the moral equivalents of the Hail Mary are frequent in our history. Silber suggests that having nothing to lose led Rosa Parks to refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus. Similarly, Woodrow Wilson sent Americans to World War I not in 1915, when it could have ended the war sooner, but in 1917, after he had won reelection and didn’t have to fulfill his campaign slogan of avoiding war. Writes Silber, sagely, “second-term presidents should come with a warning label: Do not provoke a lame duck.” Desperation will drive people to extraordinary measures, of course, including attempting to enter a country illegally and, in the case of rogue trader Nick Leeson, taking advantage of the fact that his employer, Barings Bank, “encouraged traders to become daredevils, ignoring the fallout.” (Barings collapsed in 1995.) With an eye to behavioral economics, Silber turns up a few surprises: Even though prisoners serving life sentences don’t have much incentive to behave, they “resemble members of the local chamber of commerce more than Murder Incorporated.”A brisk look at times when it pays off to take a chance.
Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021
Page Count: 256
Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021
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by Cassidy Hutchinson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 26, 2023
A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
An insider’s account of the rampant misconduct within the Trump administration, including the tumult surrounding the insurrection of Jan. 6, 2021.
Hutchinson, who served as an assistant to Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, gained national prominence when she testified to the House Select Committee, providing possibly the most damaging portrait of Trump’s erratic behavior to date. In her hotly anticipated memoir, the author traces the challenges and triumphs of her upbringing in New Jersey and the work (including a stint as an intern with Sen. Ted Cruz) that led her to coveted White House internships and eventual positions in the Office of Legislative Affairs and with Meadows. While the book offers few big reveals beyond her testimony (many details leaked before publication), her behind-the-scenes account of the chaotic Trump administration is intermittently insightful. Her initial portrait of Trump is less critical than those written by other former staffers, as the author gauges how his actions were seemingly stirred more by vanity and fear of appearing weak, rather than pure malevolency. For example, she recalls how he attended an event without a mask because he didn’t want to smear his face bronzer. Hutchinson also provides fairly nuanced portraits of Meadows and Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who, along with Trump, eventually turned against her. She shares far more negative assessments about others in Trump’s orbit, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, and adviser Rudy Giuliani, recounting how Giuliani groped her backstage during Trump’s Jan. 6 speech. The narrative lags after the author leaves the White House, but the story intensifies as she’s faced with subpoenas to testify and is forced to undergo deep soul-searching before choosing to sever ties with Trump and provide the incriminating information that could help take him down.A mostly compelling account of one woman’s struggles within Trumpworld.
Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2023
Page Count: 384
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2023
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More About This Book
SEEN & HEARD
by Paul Kalanithi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Jan. 19, 2016
A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2016
New York Times Bestseller
Pulitzer Prize Finalist
A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.
Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.
Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016
Page Count: 248
Publisher: Random House
Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015
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