PositiveFinancial Times (UK)\"An engaging history of the bank and its place in American financial history ... Karabell, who has worked in banking himself, tells a brisk and muscular story, though at times one wishes for more financial details on the firm and its biggest deals (the partners’ famous discretion may have made this impossible, however) ... There is another possibility, too. The prudence, discretion, and moderation that defined Brown Brothers for much of its history reflected the values of the business community it served and, to an extent, of America as a whole. As those values have lost their vitality, it was inevitable that the banking industry would change. It may be, in other words, that we get the bankers we deserve.
PositiveFinancial Times (UK)John Gray has written a short but serious polemic attacking much of the western tradition of moral thought. It’s worth a read even if—perhaps especially if—you hate cats ... The mistake of most western moral thought, from Aristotle to contemporary utilitarians, is to make self-awareness and rationality the highest good, when in fact they are the cause of all the trouble ... There is a lot to be said for this view. The power of it is made vivid in Gray’s touching chapter on the difference between the simplicity and directness of feline love and the human version, which is frequently tainted with toxic egoism ... What I found missing from Gray’s argument was reflection on the possibility that self-consciousness, which causes so much misery, also gives rise to what is most beautiful and exciting in human life: art, science, sport, conversation and so on. More to the point, books such as Feline Philosophy exist because we cannot help scratching at the itch of consciousness. If Gray was able to follow his own advice, this muscular little volume would not have been written at all—which would be a shame.
PositiveFinancial Times...engaging and thorough ... It\'s a timely narrative ... Thomas’ emphasis on upstart innovators and entrepreneurs is part of what makes the book a pleasure to read. It has a downside, though. I would have liked to hear more about what the biggest brands — Zara, H&M, Uniqlo and so on — are doing to reform their supply chains.
Thomas Page McBee
MixedThe Financial TimesAmateur is a heck of a tale, and McBee is a gifted memoirist. He is particularly good at communicating his own fear and ambivalence—both in crossing the gender frontier and in learning a sport that draws on a brutal code of male behaviour that his experience has given him reason to reject ... His account of negotiating gym locker rooms with his surgically altered body captures an insecurity that feels more universal than exceptional ... The weakness of the book is that it tries to weave McBee’s story in with meditations on what he calls the \'masculinity crisis\' in modern culture, a phenomenon that ranges from #MeToo to opiate addiction. No doubt what it means to be a man is changing, but the case for a crisis needs to be made, and in this short volume McBee does not have the room to make it. Amateur left me wanting to hear more about boxing, the McBee family, and the men he met in the gym. The interwoven quotes from sociologists and economists are, by contrast, mostly dull and trite.
PositiveFinancial Times\"Did Thurber’s grandfather believe the civil war was still on, four decades after it ended? When police came to the family home one night, did the old man shoot at one of them, taking him for a deserter from the Union army? I sure hope so, but I’m not inclined to worry one way or another. Did Sedaris have a benign tumour cut out of his side in an at-home operation by a nurse he had just met — and then feed the tumour to a snapping turtle? I will not rule it out, or waste any time checking ... There is lots of funny writing in which mortally serious matters play a role. This was certainly true of Thurber. But the hard stuff usually appeared behind a comic mask or draped in a nostalgic cloak. In Calypso, Sedaris allows tragedy to appear only briefly, but without costume, playing itself. It feels like an experiment. I am keen to see where it leads.