A spicy portrait of a taciturn toy magnate made entertaining with sensationalistic testimonial.

THE GREAT BEANIE BABY BUBBLE

MASS DELUSION AND THE DARK SIDE OF CUTE

The inside scoop on the rise and fall of the Beanie Baby.

Personal finance writer Bissonnette (How to Be Richer, Smarter, and Better-Looking Than Your Parents, 2012, etc.) offers a crisp, investigative and presumably unauthorized biography of creator Ty Warner, 70, and a look at the rise of Beanie Babies and their swiftly ensuing three-year consumer craze. A decade after the height of Beanie mania, the author became intrigued at the lack of an in-depth appraisal of the plush toys and their elusive creator. Warner, who abandoned an unproductive acting career to fastidiously peddle plush cats at toy trade shows, initially created the Beanie Baby toy animals for children in 1993, but they soon morphed into a hobby for obsessed collectors who misguidedly considered their purchase a “long-term investment.” Greatly aided by eBay, Ty, Inc.’s profits crested at $3 billion in retail sales in 1998. Following that peak came a slow descent into obscurity as the reclusive billionaire channeled his own cash into the company to keep it afloat. Though never scoring a prized interview with the secretive toy creator, Bissonnette supplements his analysis with copious other interviews. Current and former company employees, collectors, dealers and Warner family members contribute consistently unflattering opinions of the toy entrepreneur, painting the so-called “Steve Jobs of plush” as a calculated businessman obsessed with plastic surgery and a womanizer whose deceptive “stage persona” and uncanny product instinct generated millions. Worse are the accounts by former girlfriends Patricia Roche and Faith McGowan about their histrionic romances, as well as Warner’s sordid relationship with his own father: Much of this material feels gratuitous. The author also includes a jailhouse visit with one collector who resorted to murder over a botched transaction and the details of Warner’s recent conviction on tax evasion in 2013.

A spicy portrait of a taciturn toy magnate made entertaining with sensationalistic testimonial.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-59184-602-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

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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