A useful, informative examination of this important artist’s career.

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MICHAEL JACKSON, INC.

THE RISE, FALL, AND REBIRTH OF A BILLION-DOLLAR EMPIRE

A quick-moving yet comprehensive narrative of the singer's career, downfall and unlikely post-mortem second act.

Forbes senior editor Greenburg (Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went from Street Corner to Corner Office, 2011) focuses on Jackson's financial acuity throughout his career, only briefly recounting the many well-known, sordid aspects of his life. As the precocious preteen star of the Jackson 5, he sought to learn how to write, record, market and, notably, profit from a song. The author charts the progress and breadth of Jackson's accomplishments through his collaborations with the best in many aspects of the entertainment industry, including his chart-breaking, three-album collaboration as a solo artist with legendary record producer Quincy Jones. Though he is a business writer, Greenburg adroitly reviews Jackson's artistic growth and achievements not with pecuniary jargon or obsequious praise, but as a narrative of the fruitful relationships the artist established with others. He includes surprising facts about Jackson's recording breakthroughs—he and his recording team developed nascent, innovative technologies such as digital music sampling and multitrack recording—as well as his ambitious, and very expensive, long-form music videos, which became the industry standard. Greenburg maintains an even narrative flow in his overview of Jackson's business acumen and how he surrendered it. Upon Jackson's death in 2009, dozens of creditors laid claim to his estate; though Jackson earned $1.1 billion in his career, he was in financial ruin. Greenburg doesn't overanalyze the complex deals and maneuverings of the private equity firm charged to manage his debt, and admirers will be gratified to learn how, five years after Jackson's death, the executors negotiated record deals, eliminated his personal debts and helped make him more popular than he had been since the 1990s.

A useful, informative examination of this important artist’s career.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-0596-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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 deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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