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Graeme Newell

Portland, OR United States
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  • Superforecasting

  • The Art and Science of Prediction
  • By: Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner
  • Narrated by: Joel Richards
  • Length: 9 hrs and 45 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,092
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,674
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,676

Everyone would benefit from seeing further into the future, whether buying stocks, crafting policy, launching a new product, or simply planning the week's meals. Unfortunately, people tend to be terrible forecasters. As Wharton professor Philip Tetlock showed in a landmark 2005 study, even experts' predictions are only slightly better than chance. However, an important and underreported conclusion of that study was that some experts do have real foresight.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great for Experts

  • By Michael on 02-20-17

Wonderful book on how to improve prediction

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-10-19

I really loved this book. The author ran a multi-year study for the government agency DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) attempting to find ways to make predictions of future world events more accurate. The agency recruited thousands and thousands of ordinary people, then asked them to predict events of major importance.

Examples included:
•Political leaders that might fall from power
•The prices of important commodities such as oil, precious metals and food stocks
•Major economic occurrences such as recessions and stock market growth.

Dozens and dozens of “super forecasters” quickly rose to the top prediction ranks. DARPA then conducted a long-term study of the specific techniques these prediction geniuses used to create their startlingly accurate prognostications.

Tetlock’s book skillfully explains the shared best-practices used by these prescient champions. Predicting world events and even important events in personal life is more achievable than you might think - but you must learn to minimize the sabotaging innate biases that taint the average person’s prediction abilities.

Over thousand of years of evolution, our human judgments were optimized for evolutionary survival in small hunter-gatherer tribes. Unfortunately, humanity has not had time to evolve a brain that’s great at solving problems in modern society.

Our brains are fantastic at making decisions that keep us from starving to death, but pretty terrible at predicting modern problems such as currency fluctuations. Monetary policy just never seemed to be a major discussion point around the homo sapien campfire. Tetlock shows just how remarkably badly our out-of-date brains predict future events.

But there is hope! Tetlock dives into the simple yet effective techniques shared by these superstar predictors, then shows how we mere mortals can put these same practices to work on our own personal problems.

Tetlock’s writing is delightfully flowing and he weaves a fascinating story about a big government program that brought about a revelation in the intelligence gathering process. It is an inspirational story about how everyday people who practice some very simple mental disciplines were able to bring about some major good in the world.

  • The Value of Everything

  • Who Makes and Who Takes from the Real Economy
  • By: Mariana Mazzucato
  • Narrated by: Randye Kaye
  • Length: 12 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 51
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 44
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 42

The Value of Everything argues that American companies have for too long been valued according to the amount of wealth they capture for themselves rather than for the value they create for the economy. In fact, Pfizer, Amazon, and other companies are actually dependent on public money, spend their resources on boosting share prices and executive pay, and reap ever-expanding rewards without offering the market value. 

  • 2 out of 5 stars
  • Unlistenable

  • By Hannah Wallis on 09-25-18

Good Book but a bit light on solutions

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-19

The author attempts to find exactly which players in the economy are productive and which are unproductive “rent collectors.” Specifically, she takes a hard look at the role of banks. Are banks providing a vital service by making capital easier to obtain or are they merely rent collectors that extract an unproductive toll for basic access to markets?

The first part of this book is what I enjoyed most. Mazzucato did a great job of clearly laying out the most important concepts of the classic economic theorists: Hume, Marx, etc. She showed how their venerable ideas have shaped the current economy.

What I didn’t like about this book was the author’s utopian expectations that the harsh realities of today’s economic problems can be solved through good intentions. Mazzucato spends a lot of time casting stones at the world’s economic troubles, but she provides few practical solutions. Too many of her solutions simply disregard the greed and selfishness inherent in free markets.

It would be great if misbehaving capitalist didn’t run much of the world economy. I’d love it if we had universal healthcare, fair elections and sustainable wages. We don’t. Those with the economic power will fight hard to keep it. So let’s be realistic and seek solutions that soberly and pragmatically acknowledge the current economy’s Machiavellian proclivities.

Mazzucato provides some fascinating insights into the “all government is bad” narrative started during the Reagan years. She shows how this message has transformed the world economy by transferring economic power to the business titans. We are returning to the economic model of the late 19th century.

In the past, government’s economic supremacy was guaranteed by the regionality of commerce. Those governments could easily control corporations in their region because moving goods and services to other regions was cost prohibitive.

But now the poorer nations of the world hunger for a piece of the international economic pie. It has forced them into a deal with the devil, offering tax breaks and lax regulations that turn corporate tax collecting into a shell game.

The author points out we are now in a transition period. If Apple doesn’t like the rules in America, it moves its profits to Ireland or any country that gives it the best deal. The G20 is a powerful start at creating equitable economic rules that might curtail the excesses of selfish capitalism, but it has a long way to go.

The everyday people who are excluded from the benefits of the world economy will continue to lose until all countries agree to a set of baseline economic rules that reign in selfish capitalism. Let’s all agree not to exploit child labor, pay workers a sustainable wage and provide basic safety conditions in the workplace.

Until we can guarantee a minimal set of standards where everyone in the world plays by the same rules, it is going to be a race to the bottom. Businesses will be free to flock to countries that give them a freehand to pay the lowest wages, pollute at will and do whatever they please.

  • The Art of Thinking Clearly

  • By: Rolf Dobelli
  • Narrated by: Eric Conger
  • Length: 7 hrs and 49 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 623
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 520
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 515

A novelist, thinker, and entrepreneur, Rolf Dobelli deftly shows that in order to lead happier, more prosperous lives, we don't need extra cunning, new ideas, shiny gadgets, or more frantic hyperactivity - all we need is less irrationality. Simple, clear, and always surprising, this indispensable audiobook will change the way you think and transform your decision making - at work, at home, every day.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great content but maybe better in paperback

  • By Kemal Oner on 10-14-15

The Best of Behavior Economics

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-27-19

This book was a delightful whirlwind tour of the worst of human judgment. Pulling from major psychological studies of the past few decades, Dobelli runs us through the top 100 flaws in human decision making. Including:

-Why we forget the past
-The downside of groupthink
-Why we put too much trust in those in authority
-Why evil is more striking than good
-Why teams are lazy
-How rewards destroy productivity
-Why a good start often leads to disaster
-How first impressions sabotage us
-Why we are slaves to our emotions
-Why we take on too many tasks
-How checklists deceive us

The author has spent most of his career writing novels and thus brings a wonderfully lyrical writing style to this book, something typically missing from most non-fiction books.

The book is divided up into more than 100 super-short chapters. Each one features a quick story demonstrating a major finding from the world of behavioral economics. This is a fun book with lots of great insight into how evolutionary forces have molded our decision making process. It’s a hit parade of the judgment calls most likely to trip us up.

  • The Myths of Happiness

  • What Should Make You Happy, but Doesn't, What Shouldn't Make You Happy, but Does
  • By: Sonja Lyubomirsky
  • Narrated by: Kathy Keane
  • Length: 7 hrs and 29 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 120
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 98
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 100

In The Myths of Happiness, Sonja Lyubomirsky isolates the major turning points of adult life, looking to both achievements (marriage, children, professional satisfaction, wealth) and failures (singlehood, divorce, financial ruin, illness) to reveal that our misconceptions about the impact of such events is perhaps the greatest threat to our long-term well-being.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A different take on a timeless subject

  • By Alessandra on 01-13-16

Good Practical Advice

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-23-19

This book provides a refreshing new vantage point on the major turning points of adult life: marriage, children, career, wealth. It also shows new strategies for dealing with life’s failures: singlehood, divorce, financial problems, illness, etc. The author reveals some major misconceptions about the impact good and bad events will have on long-term well-being.

Lyubomirsky argues that the path-of-life narrative we all learned is simply not realistic. We’ve all been assured that happiness and fulfillment will be attained once we hit the culturally anointed markers of success.

The good news is that the research shows that things typically work out better than you might think. People who don’t find their soulmate, live on tight budgets, experience serious health challenges, and don’t attain career success still have pretty great lives. It’s usually our expectations that make us miserable, not the actual circumstances of the situation.

In the book she draws on research to reveal new insights on how the big events of life typically play out. The highs will not be as rapturous as we think and the lows will not be as disappointing.

I found this to be a very practical book with solid strategies and new insights into the best ways to make life’s disappointments less painful and life’s successes more long lasting.

  • The Wealth of Humans

  • Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-first Century
  • By: Ryan Avent
  • Narrated by: Scott Merriman
  • Length: 9 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 99
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 82
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 82

Digital technology is transforming every corner of the economy, fundamentally altering the way things are done, who does them, and what they earn for their efforts. In The Wealth of Humans, Economist editor Ryan Avent brings up-to-the-minute research and reporting to bear on the major economic question of our time: can the modern world manage technological changes every bit as disruptive as those that shook the socioeconomic landscape of the 19th century? Find out.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • fantastic book... compelling narrative

  • By Brent Fisher on 01-27-17

A very smart book

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-19

What a delightfully smart book. I found myself continually re-reading pages so I could properly ingest the concepts and observations.

The very essence of society’s contract with labor is being redefined as the waning of growth, globalization and artificial intelligence changes who wins and loses in our economic future. What becomes obvious is that the world has a daunting task ahead of it. Ahead lies granular changes every bit as ground shaking as the renaissance and the industrial revolution.

This is a dense read, filled with so many great explanations of the always baffling behavior of markets and their effect on real people.

So many books like this are simply a rehash of standard economic thinking. Not this one. I was impressed at how Avent wove together so many different disciplines into insightful observations about our future. Politics, economics, psychology, history and business behavior were brought together in a common-sense way.

These are heady times and Avent does a great job gleaning insightful landmarks disguised as political rhetoric and everyday economics. He does a great job helping us understand the political meanness and dissension we see today. Then, he winds the clock forward to show us the most likely ways world economic forces might play out.

  • Frenemies

  • The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (And Everything Else)
  • By: Ken Auletta
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Todd Ross
  • Length: 12 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 100
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 87
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 89

An intimate and profound reckoning with the changes buffeting the $2 trillion global advertising and marketing business from the perspective of its most powerful players, by the best-selling author of Googled. Advertising and marketing touches on every corner of our lives, and is the invisible fuel powering almost all media. Complain about it though we might, without it the world would be a darker place. And of all the industries wracked by change in the digital age, few have been turned on its head as dramatically as this one has.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • How the ad business is changing

  • By Graeme Newell on 02-19-19

How the ad business is changing

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-19

I’ve always enjoyed Ken Auletta’s books. He is one smart author and always provides deep insights into complex topics. This book dives deep into the world of media, entertainment and advertising.

Seismic changes are happening as consumers seek to escape the legacy practice of interruption and annoyance marketing. Subscription services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime are booming. More people than ever are willing to pay money each month just to escape the din of advertising’s assault on the senses.

This book is packed with amazing insights. Auletta reveals the many trends that are morphing the advertising landscape and the many new players eagerly seeking to carve out a share of the profits.

I learned a lot, but this book took some real work to get through. Auletta’s other books did a great job of methodically guiding customers through a story. He masterfully made complicated topics understandable.

Unfortunately, this book was rather disjointed. It is more a random collection of thoughts and observations on trends. It’s a shame because Auletta’s insights are quite prescient. The first half of the book is particularly cluttered, but it gets better in the second half.

Despite its lack of narrative, this was a refreshingly smart book. I’m quite glad I read it. It definitely gave me new insights and has me looking at the world of media and advertising with a new perspective.

  • The Female Brain

  • By: Louann Brizendine M.D.
  • Narrated by: Louann Brizendine M.D.
  • Length: 7 hrs and 2 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 970
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 675
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 664

Why are women more verbal than men? Why do women remember details of fights that men can't remember at all? Why do women tend to form deeper bonds with their female friends than men do with their male counterparts? These and other questions have stumped both sexes throughout the ages. Now, pioneering neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, M.D., brings together the latest findings to show how the unique structure of the female brain determines how women think and what they value.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Layperson’s Guide to the Female Brain

  • By Richard on 09-05-07

Learned a lot about how the brain works

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
2 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-19

The author takes us through a lifetime of changes in a woman’s brain from prenatal to post-menopausal. Brizendine does a nice job of showing how brain chemistry motivates so many of the major life events throughout a woman’s life.

I was surprised to learn about the profound differences in the brain chemistry of men and women. The author shows that what can be mistaken for behavioral or personality proclivities are often strongly motivated by brain chemistry.

Biochemical brain differences are often the foundations for misunderstandings that plague both sexes. Anger, love, achieving, you name it, evolution has hardwired women’s brains with carefully honed survival strategies. Those behaviors manifest themselves in fascinating ways within the modern world where we live.

Most interesting to me was the author's discussion of how testosterone influences babies in utero. Boys and girls are sent down divergent paths because of the profound influences of this chemical. There’s a reason little boys play so rough. There’s sound brain chemistry behind little girls’ accelerated language skills. The author does a nice job explaining how these differences in brain chemistry manifest in behavioral differences between boys and girls. And those changes continue into adolescents when little girls once again have their brains scrambled by hormonal changes.

I also enjoyed her explanation of the brain reactions of conflict. She showed how men and women have a predisposition to process anger differently. I picked up some good pointers here for the next time my wife gets annoyed with me. :)

Brizendine also reveals the brain chemistry behind the fact that so many post-menopausal women divorce their husbands. I had no idea women’s preferences in career, family and love are so profoundly influenced by hormonal changes within the brain.

I really enjoyed this book. The things I learned will help me to better understand and support the women in my life.

  • Jingle Bell Pop

  • By: John Seabrook
  • Narrated by: Erin Moon
  • Length: 1 hr and 14 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 3,315
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 3,011
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 3,009

On Christmas Eve, 1818, in a small Austrian village, a local Catholic priest and a church organist composed a Christmas carol that changed the course of holiday music forever. Exactly two hundred years later, it’s not the holiday season until you’ve heard “Silent Night” in the car, at the store and on TV – all in the same day. 

In Jingle Bell Pop, John Seabrook, acclaimed author of The Song Machine, takes us deep inside the holiday music business. We go behind the scenes to meet some of the producers, songwriters and recording artists responsible for the timeless tunes we hear on repeat between Thanksgiving and Christmas every year.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Making of a Christmas Hit

  • By Kingsley on 12-07-18

Great Origin Stories About Favorite Holiday Songs

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-19

This delightful little book tells the story of the "Christmas Canon," the collection of perennial songs that populate the world's Christmas tune favorites. Surprisingly, no new songs have joined the list in 23 years. The latest addition was Maria Carey's "All I Want for Christmas is You" and the holiday spoof song “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.”

Turns out the world loves the old favorites most: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and songs from other legendary crooners from the past.

My favorite story was how the writer of "Santa Baby" struggled to write that song for the superstar Eartha Kitt. He was given the assignment to create a heartwarming Christmas song for one of the world's biggest sex symbols. How do you make something as wholesome as Christmas sexy? He was terrified the job was impossible.

This book tells the back stories of how our holiday favorites came to be. It’s a wonderful collection of tales on how unlikely events came together to create the ear worms that bring us such joy during the holidays.

  • The Tangled Tree

  • A Radical New History of Life
  • By: David Quammen
  • Narrated by: Jacques Roy
  • Length: 13 hrs and 48 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 476
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 437
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 434

In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. For instance, we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived not through traditional inheritance from directly ancestral forms, but sideways by viral infection - a type of HGT. In The Tangled Tree David Quammen chronicles these discoveries through the lives of the researchers who made them.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Quammen at his usual best

  • By JohnS on 08-23-18

Great job making a complex topic understandable

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-19-19

New advances in genetic research are facilitating a massive rewrite of the story of life. Peeking inside DNA and RNA is changing our understanding of how life developed.

We’ve always been taught that bacteria came first, then plants arose, and finally animals. The new evidence is scrambling this traditional view. Research suggests that animals came before plants. These animals then on-boarded a chloroplast and thus could generate their own energy supply. The big realization is that bacteria, archaea, viruses, animals and plants have all been swapping huge amounts of genetic code throughout time.

As a matter of fact, the entire “tree of life” metaphor is proving to be a misnomer. 8% of human genetic code comes from viruses. How did it get there? Sneaky viruses found a back door into our genome using a process called horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Genes don’t need to be transferred from parent to offspring. Other life forms have regularly commandeered our ancestor’s DNA and melded their abilities with our own.

We might think this is a really bad thing. Viruses like HIV that modify host DNA can bring on fatal consequences. Most of the time this scrambling of the genetic code had benign or detrimental effects on the host. However this merging also facilitated the development of some wickedly handy human traits.

Retroviruses that attacked our distant ancestors found a way to assure their survival by modifying the host’s DNA. This assured the invading virus would not be attacked by the host’s immune system. Well it turns out the same viral DNA fragments found their way into human placentas and assured that a mother’s immune system didn’t attack a developing fetus as an external invader. Thank you retroviruses for facilitating the evolution of live birth.

Another surprising thing I learned was that our ancestors were also mightily shaped by symbiosis. For example, a cell would ingest or be invaded by an outside organism. The two organisms would discover they were a stronger pair if they teamed up. For example, one creature might be good at energy conversion; the other might be great at locomotion. The previously individual organisms would then meld into a single entity.

Quammen takes us through all sorts of strange organisms that defy classification such as a tiny organism that finds oxygen toxic, breathes hydrogen and exhales methane. A snail exists that uses photosynthesis to produce energy - a creature that’s part plant, part animal.

Finally, one of the most interesting things that I learned was the mechanics of DNA extraction. After a lifetime of watching news footage of lab technicians using those long glass syringes to inject strange liquids into gelatin, I finally understand how that whole procedure works.

Quammen is a very skilled writer with a limber vocabulary. He made an intimidating topic like biochemistry approachable for non-scientists like myself.

  • Blueprint

  • How DNA Makes Us Who We Are
  • By: Robert Plomin
  • Narrated by: Robert Plomin
  • Length: 8 hrs and 23 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 54
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 49

In Blueprint, behavioral geneticist Robert Plomin describes how the DNA revolution has made DNA personal by giving us the power to predict our psychological strengths and weaknesses from birth. A century of genetic research shows that DNA differences inherited from our parents are the consistent life-long sources of our psychological individuality - the blueprint that makes us who we are. This, says Plomin, is a game-changer. It calls for a radical rethinking of what makes us who were are. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A milestone book

  • By John D-H on 12-20-18

Some Genuine New Thinking

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
3 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-24-19

The mapping of the human genome has created amazing breakthroughs in medicine but what a lot of people don’t realize is that it is also revolutionizing the field of psychology. Using a variety of methods, researchers have made amazing progress in deciphering the “nature vs nurture” quandary that has plagued the field since its founding days.

The past 30 years have been heavily influenced by the believers in “nurture.” An avalanche of self-help and parenting books have set the trajectory. The message is that if you toughen up, buckle down and condition the correct behavior, anything is possible. Human beings are lumps of clay and those who fail to overcome their shortcomings simply lack discipline.

Robert Plomin is a psychology researcher who specializes in studies on twins. Plomin and an army of other researchers have conducted thousands of causality studies for everything from personality traits to major psychological maladies like depression and schizophrenia.

The result is that the answer to the “nature vs nurture” question is becoming clearer. The pendulum is swinging back to the “nature” camp. Solid science shows that our personalities are far more genetically driven than we ever realized. While outside forces such as parenting, peers and self-discipline can bring about real change, it’s becoming increasingly clear that genetic predisposition is the most powerful driver of our feelings and behavior.

Some people are just happy by nature. Others have a more grumpy disposition. Some are achievers, couch potatoes, worriers or happy-go-lucky. For good or for bad, the research is now showing that your ability to pick yourself up by your bootstraps has daunting limitations.

This has profound implications for the field of psychology, education and most importantly, parenting. Today’s helicopter parents will not be nearly as successful as they think. The good news is that kids tend to be a lot like their parents, but this is primarily driven by parents passing down their DNA, not by child-rearing prowess. Good or bad parenting can have a powerful impact, but we are learning that all of us have a mighty inclination to ascend or regress to the behavior that is genetically programmed in our DNA.

The research reveals that genetic predisposition is the dominant determining factor in education success. It’s more of an influence than where a child goes to school, the skill of teachers, or involvement of parents. Don’t get me wrong, all these latter components can make a difference, but they appear to have less impact than was previously thought.

The research is revealing that a systematic change is required in the way we look at the field of psychology. The field still follows a medical model. People in the mental health system are classified as “sick” and in need of a “cure.” They are “healthy” or “normal.” Plomin argues this black and white thinking is the wrong approach.

There is no single gene for depression. This feeling is endemic to human existence. The research is showing that ALL OF US suffer from depression. Some of us have very little, and some of us have a lot. The level of severity can be predictably graphed on a standard bell curve. The daunting conclusion this book reveals is that all of us will still be powerfully compelled to return to a set point coded in our chromosomes.

We will not be able to “cure” something that is hard coded throughout the human genome. This would be like curing someone of the malady of having brown eyes or being tall. What we want to do is to help those in the most distress move up the bell curve to a place where their suffering is lessened.

I also appreciated Plomin’s explanation of how cells divide and pass along their DNA coding. He took a very complicated topic and made it understandable.

I really enjoyed this book. The writing is a bit cumbersome but it has some genuine new insights. A warning - the first chapters are abysmal, filled with methodology and biography. Stick with it and muscle through. It gets better.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful