The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis
A Friendship That Changed Our Minds

81%

13 Critic Reviews

Kahneman and Tversky approached their personal lives and their research in extremely divergent manners. At times, Lewis’ details about the unlikely coupling overwhelm the larger narrative, but that is a minor complaint in another solid book from this gifted author.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

How a Nobel Prize–winning theory of the mind altered our perception of reality.


Forty years ago, Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky wrote a series of breathtakingly original studies undoing our assumptions about the decision-making process. Their papers showed the ways in which the human mind erred, systematically, when forced to make judgments in uncertain situations. Their work created the field of behavioral economics, revolutionized Big Data studies, advanced evidence-based medicine, led to a new approach to government regulation, and made much of Michael Lewis’s own work possible. Kahneman and Tversky are more responsible than anybody for the powerful trend to mistrust human intuition and defer to algorithms.


The Undoing Project is about a compelling collaboration between two men who have the dimensions of great literary figures. They became heroes in the university and on the battlefield—both had important careers in the Israeli military—and their research was deeply linked to their extraordinary life experiences. Amos Tversky was a brilliant, self-confident warrior and extrovert, the center of rapt attention in any room; Kahneman, a fugitive from the Nazis in his childhood, was an introvert whose questing self-doubt was the seedbed of his ideas. They became one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science, working together so closely that they couldn’t remember whose brain originated which ideas, or who should claim credit. They flipped a coin to decide the lead authorship on the first paper they wrote, and simply alternated thereafter.


This story about the workings of the human mind is explored through the personalities of two fascinating individuals so fundamentally different from each other that they seem unlikely friends or colleagues. In the process they may well have changed, for good, mankind’s view of its own mind.

 

About Michael Lewis

See more books from this Author
Michael Lewis is the author of Panic!, Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and Home Game, among other works. He lives in Berkeley, California.
 
Published December 6, 2016 by W. W. Norton & Company. 369 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, History, Professional & Technical, Science & Math. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Critic reviews for The Undoing Project
All: 13 | Positive: 11 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Above average
on Dec 06 2016

Kahneman and Tversky approached their personal lives and their research in extremely divergent manners. At times, Lewis’ details about the unlikely coupling overwhelm the larger narrative, but that is a minor complaint in another solid book from this gifted author.

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Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 28 2017

Lewis' latest effort is a joy to read, packed with "aha!" moments, telling and at times hilarious details, and elegant explanations of complex experiments and theories.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by David Leonhardt on Dec 06 2016

Lewis is the ideal teller of the story. Dating to his 1989 debut, “Liar’s Poker,” about the Wall Street boom of that decade, he has displayed a rare combination for a writer. He immerses himself in big ideas...

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Book Reporter

Good
Reviewed by Harvey Freedenberg on Dec 15 2016

...Michael Lewis again reveals his facility for taking an arcane subject and making it accessible to a wide readership. Anyone confronting the ideas of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman for the first time through this engaging work is unlikely ever again to think the same way about the complicated phenomenon of how we make up our minds.

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Booklist Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Tony Miksanek on Dec 02 2016

Lewis is an irresistible storyteller and a master at illuminating complicated and fascinating subjects and his fans will follow his lead, wherever he goes.

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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Excellent
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Jan 15 2017

The author of “Liar’s Poker,” “Moneyball,” “The Big Short” and “Flash Boys,” Mr. Lewis is a master of nonfiction narrative. “The Undoing Project” may well be his best book.

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USA Today

Good
Reviewed by Don Oldenburg on Dec 06 2016

A lot of thinking goes on in this book, electrifying thinking that will raise doubts about how you personally perceive reality. Not one of the most effortless books you’ll read, this may be one of the best.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jennifer Senior on Dec 01 2016

Mr. Lewis has written one hell of a love story, and a tragic one at that. The book is particularly good at capturing the agony of the one who loves the more. Yet passionate fans of Mr. Lewis’s should also be warned: “The Undoing Project” is less cinematic — which is to say, less plot-driven — than some of his previous books.

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Scotsman.com

Above average
Reviewed by Allan Massie on Dec 14 2016

Lewis is a good explainer, but some of the book is hard going: reports of tests given to University students – their “lab-rats” – and the conclusions drawn often left me baffled. But much of it is fascinating.

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Irish Times

Good
Reviewed by Pete Lunn on Jan 07 2017

Michael Lewis is one of the best non-fiction writers of our time. The writing has wit, passion and scientific credibility. Apart from an unnecessary opening chapter that applies the Kahneman and Tversky’s science to basketball, it really is epic stuff.

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The Missoulian

Above average
Reviewed by Nick Romeo on Jan 29 2017

Half of the book is largely redundant; Kahneman himself wrote an excellent 2011 popular book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” Lewis skillfully highlights the wide-reaching implications of some of these ideas, but much of what makes his new book original is his deep reporting on the personalities and biographies of the two psychologists.

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https://bookpage.com

Good
Reviewed by Amy Scribner on Dec 05 2016

The Undoing Project is a thoroughly fascinating look at psychology, academia and life in mid-century Israel. Ultimately, though, it is the story of two unlikely, deeply connected friends who changed the way we think about the way we think.

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https://www.bostonglobe.com

Good
Reviewed by DAN CRYER on Dec 16 2016

Lewis ably explains their discoveries, and his crisp prose has an admirable quality of cutting to the chase: “The chief feature of the Israeli army’s psychological unit in 1954 was that it had no psychologists.” But the heart and soul of this book lies in the story of their relationship’s rise and fall.

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Reader Rating for The Undoing Project
75%

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