MixedThe New RepublicAlthough childhood passes in a few pages, Chafkin gives the reader inclined to armchair psychoanalysis plenty with which to work ... Chafkin follows the Thiel story through the first year of the pandemic. A lot of this has been previously reported, including by Chafkin himself. But by putting things together, in order, Chafkin makes some important patterns clear ... The Contrarian is primarily plot-driven. But the analogies that it suggests between contrarianism as a media strategy and contrarianism as a business strategy may be crucial to understanding the cultural logic of our time—not to mention the origins of the Silicon Valley culture wars out of which Thiel has emerged as the best-known figurehead ... But replacing heroes with anti-heroes does little to alter the narrative about how a handful of geniuses have changed the world through their insuperable intelligence; the genre continues to trade on a deep desire to make myths about the men behind the machines. And in the case of Thiel, specifically, to focus too much on him as an individual precludes understanding, much less contesting, the nature of his power.
Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt
PanThe GuardianThe framing leaves no room to consider how historical and social change might legitimately change institutions or individuals, or that individuals might want to change their world. (This framing also explains how they can write hundreds of pages about what’s wrong with contemporary higher education and not mention debt or adjuncts) ... The Coddling of the American Mind is less interesting for its anecdotes or arguments, which are familiar, than as an epitome of a contemporary liberal style ... The style that does befit an expert, apparently, is the style of TED talks, thinktanks and fellow Atlantic writers and psychologists. The citations in this book draw a circle around a closed world ... Who will fix the crisis? The people who are already in charge ... The rhetorical appeal, here, shares a structure with the appeal that carried the enemy in chief of political correctness to the White House: \'That’s just common sense\' ... Like Trump, the authors romanticise a past before \'identity\' but get fuzzy and impatient when history itself comes up ... For all their self-conscious reasonableness, and their promises that CBT can master negative emotion, Lukianoff and Haidt often seem slightly hurt ... Their problem with \'microaggressions\' is this framework emphasises impact over intentions, a perspective that they dismiss as clearly ludicrous. Can’t these women and minorities see we mean well? This is the incredulity of people who have never feared being stereotyped ... The minds they coddle just may be their own.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewHirshey’s psychological insights into Brown’s childhood, as well as the book’s treatment of Brown’s long partnership with her husband, deepen and complicate the plucky image that Brown projected in public...But refusing to situate Brown in the current context seems like a missed opportunity.