PositiveThe Washington PostIn When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel H. Pink doesn’t reveal every secret about perfect timing — how long should one wait before following up on an unanswered email? — but he does give a cheat sheet on when to work, sleep and play, useful for both freelancers and those beholden to bosses ... Pink doesn’t go especially deep into any area. He skips around between disparate topics, he notes the use of research assistants, and he has a tic of quoting study findings rather than putting these mostly pedestrian passages in his own words, a habit that gives the vague impression of lacking mastery of the material (or, more generously, of carefulness) ... The book is well-structured and goes down easy, with concise summaries often packaged with alliteration (type, task, time) ...the big-picture musings are a nice prompt for the interested reader at the finale of an otherwise practical book.
PositiveThe Washington PostCrews doesn’t spend much time on legacy, except to suggest that Freud’s distraction from real scientific and therapeutic work set psychology and neuroscience back by decades ... The book can be rough going in some places, through no fault of the dedicated author. Rather the source material eschews penetrability and plausibility; Freud’s accounts became so tangled over the years as he avoided admitting error that I fear there’s no untangling them. Even so, Freud is a surprisingly fun read, as Crews gets in plenty of sharp jabs. He seems to find the most damning way to spin any admission or incident, leaving one to wonder about his own interpretive filters. Still, given the facts presented, it’s hard to imagine additional disclosures that would completely reverse the overall impression.
Yuval Noah Harari
PositiveThe Washington PostHarari presents three possible futures. In one, humans are expendable. In a second, the elite upgrade themselves, becoming essentially another species that sees everyone else as expendable. In a third, we join the hive mind, worshiping data over individuals (or God). 'Connecting to the system becomes the source of all meaning,' he writes. In any case, he says convincingly, 'the most interesting place in the world from a religious perspective is not the Islamic State or the Bible Belt, but Silicon Valley.' I enjoyed reading about these topics not from another futurist but from a historian, contextualizing our current ways of thinking amid humanity’s long march — especially a historian with Harari’s ability to capsulize big ideas memorably and mingle them with a light, dry humor.
PositiveThe Washington Post...a well-researched and lively biography ... Despite the penetrating impact of the pair’s findings, the ideas seem obvious enough in retrospect that most people should grasp them easily ... The Undoing Project is an odd book. In describing Kahneman and Tversky’s findings and lives with equal attention, it appears to cater to readers not interested enough in their work to read Kahneman’s book, and yet so interested that they want to read about the scientists’ childhoods and the details of their careers ... Nevertheless, Lewis does as fine a job as anyone could with the formula. He makes the science easy and relatable. And with in-depth interviews and access to personal files, he also creates a convincing portrait of Kahneman and Tversky as an odd couple.