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Craig L. Howe RSS Feed (Darien, CT United States)

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The Plain of Dead Cities: A Syrian Tale
The Plain of Dead Cities: A Syrian Tale
by Bruce McLaren
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.55
19 used & new from $12.63

5.0 out of 5 stars A Start for Syrian Clarity, September 30, 2014
I will admit it. To me modern Syria is an enigma. Recent headlines defy understanding.

Bruce McLaren’s book, The Plain of Dead Cities: A Syrian Tale helped provide me with smidgeon of clarity. An Australian-born academic he excavated numerous sites across the Middle East, dating from the Neolithic to the Islamic Periods. Using the format of a novel, he deploys this knowledge to weave a provocative tapestry from the social, religious and historic strands to help explain the complexity of Syrian current events.

McLaren does for the Syrian conflict what Thomas Friedman did for the Middle East mélange in his classic book, From Beirut to Jerusalem. With an admirable command of the language, he offers powerful insights into today’s headlines.

McLaren does little to hide his admiration for the country and its people. Yet with the eyes of an archaeologist and student of history, he places today’s Syrian events in a long-term context. He views the country as a vibrant land in the forefront of change.

The Plain of Dead Cities is a great read. It is insightful while not losing its readability. If you are like me and at a loss to understand today’s Syrian events, McLaren’s book is a great place to start searching for clarity.

No Way Back: A Novel
No Way Back: A Novel
Price: $12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A Wild Read, August 6, 2014
No Way Back is a wild ride. At times it is entertaining; others, it stretches credibility. At moments it is touching; others, so dark it prompts the reader to quit.

The story is simple. Jimmy Thane thinks that his new job as the CEO of a failing company is his last opportunity to life around. In the past each time he usually opts for the wrong path. At the peak of his career, he turned alcohol: later he opted for drugs. And when his wife lost faith in him, he turned to other women. Now, Jimmy’s clean, and he faces a new dilemma.

He has convinced an old friend to give him the job of a CEO at a failing company in South Florida. He has seven weeks to turn it around. He should think again.
From the moment he enters the building, he senses there’s something very wrong. Nothing is as it seems.

Jimmy begins to feel he is living another nightmare.

If you are looking for a light, late summer read, stick with this novel: its conclusion even shocked me.

Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions
Left Brain, Right Stuff: How Leaders Make Winning Decisions
by Phil Rosenzweig
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.64
79 used & new from $3.19

5.0 out of 5 stars Real World Decisions, February 17, 2014
Left Brain, Right Stuff begins where the decisions making experiments end and real world decision making begins. In this Always entertaining, yet practical book Phil Rosenzweig argues for complex decisions leaders require an ability to shape opinions, inspire followers, manage risk, outmaneuver and outperform rivals.

These decisions call for detailed analysis and calculation—left brain—as well as the willingness to push boundaries and take bold action—right stuff. Eexperiments showing cognitive biases and irrational judgments apply only to particular situations- everything is held constant but one variable while subjects exert noinfluence over outcomes. In real strategic decisions, he posits, this is untrue.

Left Brain, Right Stuff draws on a wealth of examples to propose a new model for real world decision making. The author’s analysis of research provides insights on topics such as confidence and overconfidence, the uses and limits of decision models, the illusion of control, expert performance, competitive bidding and new venture management, and the the nuisances of leadership.

Performance is relative, failure’s consequences harsh. With this book Rosenzweig advances the reader’s understanding of decision making’s components, improving his or her odds of success.

Buried Secrets (Nick Heller Novels)
Buried Secrets (Nick Heller Novels)
by Joseph Finder
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.25
244 used & new from $0.01

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finder at his Best, June 22, 2011
Joseph Finder newest novel, Buried Secrets, is his best. And that says something.

The second in Finder's Nick Heller series finds Nick working out of his home town, Boston. There he's urgently summoned by an old family friend who needs his help.

His eighteen-year-old daughter, Alexandra, has been kidnapped. Her abduction was sophisticated. Executed with precision; no trace evidence is left. Alexandra, whom Nick has known since she was an infant, is held prisoner in an underground crypt, a camera trained on her. Her suffering streams live over the internet for all to see.

This tale has everything: hedge fund operators, an uber-patroitic lawyer, zealous FBI agents, former lovers and shady investors.

If you start this thriller, be prepared to write-off the rest of the day. If you love thrillers like I do, you won't put it down until you reach its last period.

Finder is one of this country's best thriller writers. His previous previous thrillers, most recently the New York Times bestsellers Paranoia, Company Man, and Killer Instinct were great. Buried Secrets propels his talent to a new level.

You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions
You Are What You Choose: The Habits of Mind That Really Determine How We Make Decisions
by Scott De Marchi
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.82
99 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Another View of Decision Making, January 12, 2010
In this book Scott De Marchi and James T. Hamilton, two Duke University professors, offer a new and ingenious way to examine and predict how people make decisions.

People, whether rational or irrational, approach choice in different ways. Their choices they argue, are not understandable unless you know who and what the people are. To a large degree how you choose, they posit, matters more than what you are choosing.

To approach the problem, the two Duke Professors, offer their TRAITS model:

* Time
* Risk
* Altruism
* Information
* meToo
* Stickiness.

Interpreting data from more than 30,000 subjects, the authors show decision makers stick with their entrenched habits of mind and are consistent about how much information they gather before opting for a choice.

Blood Revenge
Blood Revenge
by David Thor
Edition: Hardcover
37 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary? Relevant? Non-Stop?, December 17, 2009
This review is from: Blood Revenge (Hardcover)
The e-mail offering the Pointed Pundit a book, promised an "extraordinarily relevant novel...a non-stop story" Why not? I thought. I love a fast-moving thriller.

The Pointed Pundit considers himself to be an "iron-ass," capable of taking some of the most complex literature, delving into it, and emerging with a semblance of understanding. Not in this case, the Pointed Pundit kept nodding off while reading.

One benefit, the folks at work tell me I look great. The bags around my eyes are gone.

"Have you been on vacation?" they ask. Strike "fast moving."

The concept behind the novel probably is relevant, but I may have missed it in between my naps.

I promised I would read it; I finished it - three stars.

Living Landscapes: Creative Visions of the Wild
Living Landscapes: Creative Visions of the Wild
by Andy Rouse
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from $3.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Andy Rouse Evolves, October 3, 2009
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
The Pointed Pundit has spent the past week savoring the images in Andy Rouse's new book, Living Landscapes.

Like most artists, Andy's work continues to evolve. In some ways, I am not sure it is for the better. In his previous book, Concepts of Nature, Andy used the light to make spectacular portraits of animals in the wild. His current effort attempts to go beyond that, seeking to capture the relationships between those animals and their ecosystems.

There can be no question that Andy is talented. Whether it is a land iguana's eye or a masked booby chick sitting on its nest, Andy captures the symmetry and power of nature with the eye of an artist. Yet his attempt to portray his wildlife's environment, in my eye, causes his images to lose some their poignancy.

The book is organized around several themed portfolios. In "Habitat" he seeks to capture the relationship between creatures and their surroundings. In "Patterns" he explores abstraction using a stunning collection of photographs.

The copy in this book is a huge improvement. Concepts of Nature suffered from a disgraceful lack of editing. Not so with his newest book. The written images in Living Landscapes are worthy of the photographs they accompany.

Andy Rouse is talented. As he evolves, the Pointed Pundit hopes he does not let his conservationist heart overpower his ability to make awe-inspiring wildlife portraits.

Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition
by Michael J. Mauboussin
Edition: Hardcover
78 used & new from $0.01

9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mauboussin Scores Again, September 27, 2009
Making a decision is difficult. For business leaders and investors making a correct one is even more difficult.

In his latest book, Think Twice: Harnessing the power of Counterintuition, Michael Mauboussin reviews 8 common behavioral decision mistakes. He notes there are three elements to the outcome of every decision: your

1. Thought process,
2. Actions,
3. Luck.

Difficult decisions involve an element of uncertainty; outcomes can only be expressed as probabilities. More often these decisions require action before complete information can be assembled. Using a combination of science, psychology and case studies, Mauboussin discusses the consequences of:

1. Inside; Outside Thinking
2. Tunnel Vision
3. Uncritical Reliance on Experts
4. Context
5. The Pitfalls of Understanding Complex Systems on the Wrong Level
6. Predicting Cause and Effect
7. Small Perturbations during Phase Transitions
8. Skill and Luck.

The author admits his book contains little that is new. I would posit, however, that one cannot consider and think about these concepts enough. After all, as the author points out, the most important letters in his title are T-H-I-N_ __ I-C-E. That observation alone underscores his book's value.

Mauboussin's strength is his ability to weave complexities into a provocative and easily read essay. The combination results in a book that should reside on every investor's desk.

Vanished (Nick Heller )
Vanished (Nick Heller )
by Joseph Finder
Edition: Hardcover
232 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars New Character: Great Read, August 18, 2009
Joseph Finders new novel, Vanished, has it all: a fugitive financier, an unhappy housewife, an ex-special forces private detective and a non-conformist-comic book-writing kid.

Joe Finder's ninth novel is a worthy addition to his line of thrillers. Corporate misadventures and resourceful scheming combine to provide a readable book for this summer's final days. It is a riveting story. Finder is a great story teller and this may be his best-book-to-date. Vanished is a compelling tale, carried by complex and life-like characters.

The story is fairly simple. It opens with an attack on Lauren and Roger Heller as they are leaving a Georgetown restaurant. Lauren wakes up more than 24 hours later in the hospital. There is no sign Of Roger. In the interim, their 14-year-old son, Gabe, has called in his uncle, Nick, for help.

Finder is one of this country's greatest writers of thrillers. I will be eagerly looking forward to his next novel.

Axis of Influence: How Credibility and Likeability Intersect to Drive Success
Axis of Influence: How Credibility and Likeability Intersect to Drive Success
by Pam Holloway
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.45
39 used & new from $1.84

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impact's Fulcum, May 14, 2009
Most people understand that trust, likeability and credibility combine somehow to form a fulcrum leading towards inpact.

How these intangibles interact to effect people's perceptions remains a mystery to many. Michael Lovas and Pam Holloway explore these qualities. In Axis of Influence they reveal many of the lessons they have uncovered during their more than two decades of research into the pyschology of communications, business relationships and learning.

If you seek impact in business and relationships, this book is a great place to start. It goes "under the hood" to reveal what goes on in people's minds as you first meet and begin to form subconscious decisions.

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