An urgent, timely, and compelling message with nearly limitless implications.

DAVOS MAN

HOW THE BILLIONAIRES DEVOURED THE WORLD

The consequences of unfettered avarice.

New York Times global economics correspondent Goodman mounts a scathing critique of the greed, narcissism, and hypocrisy that characterize those in “the stratosphere of the globe-trotting class,” many of whom gather at the annual World Economic Forum held in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos. Davos Man—an epithet coined by political scientist Samuel Huntington—is “an unusual predator whose power comes in part from his keen ability to adopt the guise of an ally.” The “relentless plunder” perpetrated by Davos Man, Goodman argues persuasively, “is the decisive force behind the rise of right-wing populist movements around the world,” leading to widening economic inequality, intense public anger, and dire threats to democracy. The author closely examines five individuals: private equity magnate Stephen Schwarzman; JPMorgan Chase executive Jamie Dimon; asset manager Larry Fink; Amazon’s Jeff Bezos; and Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff, who promotes himself as “the most empathetic corporate chieftain.” At the same time that these men broadcast their concern for social justice, they enrich themselves by manipulating economies, lobbying politicians, eviscerating regulations, weakening government oversight, and extracting huge tax benefits. Fink’s professed concern for the environment, for example, is really an alarm about risk to investments: “In a world under assault by rising seas and turbulent weather, how safe was real estate, and what were the implications for mortgage-backed securities?” During the mortgage crisis, Schwarzman’s company bought foreclosed properties, amassing a large inventory that it leased to desperate renters. With their yachts, multiple mansions, and private islands, they prove themselves “unmoored from the rest of human experience.” Reining in Davos Man, Goodman asserts, “can happen only through the exercise of democracy—by unleashing strategies centered on boosting wages and working opportunities, by erecting new forms of social insurance, by reviving and enforcing antitrust law, by modernizing the tax code to focus on wealth.”

An urgent, timely, and compelling message with nearly limitless implications.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-307830-7

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Custom House/Morrow

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

LIBERALISM AND ITS DISCONTENTS

The renowned political scientist and philosopher considers classical liberalism and the broad range of enemies arrayed against it.

“By ‘liberalism,’ ” writes Fukuyama, “I refer to the doctrine…that argued for the limitation of the powers of governments through law and ultimately constitutions, creating institutions protecting the rights of individuals living under their jurisdiction.” Born of events such as the English civil war and the Enlightenment, this liberalism also encouraged diversity of thought, religion, and ethnicity, placing it squarely in the crosshairs of today’s authoritarian nationalists, not least Donald Trump. Fukuyama has often been identified with conservative causes, but his thinking here is democratic to the core, and he has no use for such pathetic lies as Trump’s insistence that the 2020 election was stolen. That said, the author notes that liberalism has many enemies on both the left and the right for numerous real yet correctable failings. The neoliberalism that has emerged over the past couple of generations has accelerated inequality, and numerous institutions have been eroded while others, such as the Electoral College, have been revealed to be anti-democratic. Both left and right, the author argues, have trouble accepting that governing over diversity, the hallmark of liberalism, means governing over many ethnic and national groups, strata of income, and competing interests. He adds, however, “Left-of-center voters…remain much more diverse” in political outlook. Essential to a liberal society, Fukuyama insists, is the right to vote: “Voting rights are fundamental rights that need to be defended by the power of the national government.” While he insists that individual rights take precedence over group rights, he also observes that the social contract demands citizen participation. To the conservative charge that the social contract is one thing but the “common moral horizon” another, he answers that yes, liberalism does not insist on a single morality—which “is indeed a feature and not a bug.”

A deceptively slender but rich argument in favor of conserving liberal ideals—and liberal government.

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60671-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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