RaveFinancial Times (UK)There have been many good books on human rationality and irrationality, but only one masterpiece. That masterpiece is Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman, a winner of the Nobel Prize for economics, distils a lifetime of research into an encyclopedic coverage of both the surprising miracles and the equally surprising mistakes of our conscious and unconscious thinking. He achieves an even greater miracle by weaving his insights into an engaging narrative that is compulsively readable from beginning to end ... one of the signal strengths of Thinking, Fast and Slow is to combine the positive and negative views of intuition into one coherent story ... this is one of the greatest and most engaging collections of insights into the human mind I have read.
Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflo
MixedThe Wall Street JournalGreat so far, but then the book takes some wrong turns ... This isn’t merely introducing cellphones to fishermen ... Would such a big redesign really work?...How do you redesign policies for effectiveness if you won’t know whether something works until 20 years later? ... Politicians and voters are also unlikely to select policies based on what the academics recommend ... Unfortunately, the book’s tone does not help foster trust...They engage in some ad hominem arguments, discounting their opponents’ views if they have appeared on television or in the press, if they work for the private sector, are \'strident\' or belong to \'a previous era\' ... lives up to its authors’ reputations, giving a masterly tour of the current evidence on critical policy questions facing less-than-perfect markets in both developed and developing countries, from migration to trade to postindustrial blight. But the book is less convincing when it suggests that a wholesale redesign of social programs is a viable or desirable replacement for our messy democracies and sticky markets. The evidence is lacking for such an ambitious evidence-based policy.
MixedThe Wall Street JournalIt is a powerful statement of the problem of the elites vs. the masses, the insiders vs. the outsiders. Ironically, The Levelling itself and the genre to which it belongs highlight the problem rather than solve it. Often condescending, supposedly expert solutions are offered to a crisis that is so broadly defined that it includes obesity, videogame addiction, acute attention deficit disorder and the \'hunched form of the texter\' ... It is part of the charm of The Levelling that the author confesses the sins of this genre even while he gleefully sins further ... Sometimes the mist clears to reveal solutions, but only those a grandee could love ... There are dubious claims, too ... To be fair, Mr. O’Sullivan, a finance executive and author, sometimes shows more convincing expertise ... But the real attraction of the book is the author’s impish contradictions.
Charles C. Mann
RaveThe Wall Street JournalTo represent the two sides, Mr. Mann traces the lives and thought of two significant figures. The captain of Team Prophet is William Vogt, a now forgotten ecologist whom the author credits with launching the worldwide environmental movement with his 1948 manifesto Road to Survival...Facing off against Vogt for the Wizards is a more famous scientist, Norman Borlaug, the leading pioneer of the Green Revolution, for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 … Mr. Mann is a good referee of the contest, which seesaws back and forth, and his book is a treasure house of knowledge about the triumphs and failures of both sides … The purpose of Mr. Mann’s indispensable book is not to declare a winner, but—with luck—to help us find the right mixture of Prophets and Wizards in the future.
RaveThe Wall Street JournalI had to wonder, as I was reading The Undoing Project, whether Mr. Lewis would really respect his subjects’ doubts about experts or follow the imperative that any book on any problem must conclude with experts confidently solving the problem. Mr. Lewis passed the test. There is a brief mention of a few expert nudges to trick people into making decisions in their own interest on things like retirement savings, but the nudge approach correctly seems like small beer. In a world of overly certain predictions and policy prescriptions from consulting firms and think tanks to politicians and book authors, Mr. Lewis has given us a spectacular account of two great men who faced up to uncertainty and the limits of human reason.