A carefully assembled, thorough book that should be required reading for corporate leaders.

POLITICAL RISK

HOW BUSINESSES AND ORGANIZATIONS CAN ANTICIPATE GLOBAL INSECURITY

Former Secretary of State Rice (Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, 2017, etc.) and Zegart (Eyes on Spies: Congress and the United States Intelligence Community, 2011, etc.), both Stanford political scientists, describe how political risk can affect businesses—and what to do about it.

SeaWorld is devastated by online social activism over its mistreatment of killer whales. Sony Entertainment loses trade secrets to hackers. Kazakhstan becomes independent, and Chevron faces a nightmare over an oil-and-gas concession in the dissolving Soviet Republic. Such are the new dangers—from geopolitics to cyberthreats and terrorism—facing corporations in the turbulent global landscape of “unprecedented” economic opportunities and political risks of the past 30 years. During this period, societal changes—e.g., supply chain innovations, the communications revolution, and post–Cold War politics—have given rise to potentially harmful actions by individuals with cellphones, local officials using city ordinances, terrorists using truck bombs, and the U.N. imposing sanctions. Now, write the authors, “anyone armed with a cell phone or a Twitter or Facebook account can create political risks.” Based on a Stanford seminar taught by the authors, the book examines the “notoriously difficult” job of managing the countless political risks that businesses face. Some firms excel, notably FedEx, Marriott, Disney, and the Lego Group as well as many cruise lines, chemical companies, law firms, tech companies, and others. Some have even created “mini-CIAs.” Drawing on research, interviews, and their own experiences, Rice and Zegart provide detailed examples of companies that have succeeded or failed in meeting the new challenges and outline key ways to approach risks: Get good information. Build trusting relationships. Analyze continually. Integrate political risk analysis into business decision-making. As the authors write in closing, “the most effective organizations have three big things in common: They take political risk seriously, they approach it systematically, and they lead from the top.”

A carefully assembled, thorough book that should be required reading for corporate leaders.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4555-4235-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Twelve

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

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

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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