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>  News Releases >   2003 >   August

Recent books by Dartmouth authors

Posted 08/13/03

Teaching Your Children Good Manners (2002)

"Because I Said So!" Family Squabbles & How to Handle Them (2003)

Talking to Your Kids about Sex: From Toddlers to Preteens (2003)

By Steven Atkins, Clinical Associate in Psychiatry and Instructor in Psychiatry and Lauri Berkenkamp
Nomad Press
Reviewed by Jeremy Presser '04

In their three new books released as part of the Go Parents! guides to child rearing, Atkins and Berkenkamp write about ways to approach and deal with the issues of manners, family disputes, and sex. Written in easy-to-read prose and filled almost entirely with examples of problems that arise as children grow, the books provide answers for virtually every issue that might arise from these often difficult, embarrassing and awkward topics. In their book Teaching Your Children Good Manners, for example, the authors move from ideas as broad as table etiquette and using appropriate language to topics as specific as how to act when leaving a party and how to leave messages when the person the child is trying to reach is not available. Similarly, in their book Family Squabbles and How to Handle Them, Atkins and Berkenkamp easily move from issues such as what to do when your child tells a lie to how to deal with the sibling fights that inevitably develop on road trips. The books describe the appropriate level of punishment, support, and discussion that should be administered when problems arise to facilitate trust between parents and children and awareness for the child of what is appropriate in society. In both the book on teaching children good manners and the one on dealing with family squabbles, each chapter covers a different type of problem that might arise, includes descriptions of what type of information kids can be expected to know and learn at various ages, and even provides games to promote that learning. Furthermore, the authors give parents ways to implement the solutions the books provide without upsetting either parents or their kids. In the third new book of the series, Talking to Your Kids about Sex: From Toddlers to Preteens, Atkins and Berkenkamp use the same practical approach and light-hearted prose found in the other two books to deal with the topic of sex education. Instead of organizing this book by topic however, the book is divided by age. Included are sections with specific advice for talking to toddlers, preschoolers, 6-9 year-olds and preteens. In addressing the issue of how to talk to children about sex, the authors refuse to concede that dealing with the birds and the bees necessarily has to be humiliating and painful for all parties involved. Accordingly, the book calmly walks parents through the appropriate ways to address even questions normally thought of as too embarrassing to discuss, such as masturbation and oral sex. Reminding parents that children are genuinely curious about these things, and treating sex as an embarrassing subject will only prevent kids from returning for more advice, Atkins and Berkenkamp include suggestions of ways to ensure that talking to children is a learning experience for all. In explaining the way to approach where babies come from for a preschooler, Atkins and Berkenkamp write:

You may think your kids are way too young to start thinking about - and discussing - the mechanics of reproduction, but now is the perfect and easiest time to talk with your kids about how their bodies work. Preschoolers are at the unique age where they have one foot in the concrete, experiential world, and the other firmly planted in the fantastic. For them, growing up to be a fireman, Batman, or an invisible magic fairy are all likely, and foreseeable career paths. Nothing is out of the realm of possibility to them. So take advantage of (and enjoy) your children's open-minded curiosity at this age, where questions - and answers - will come more easily and openly than at any other time of their lives.

Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines

By David Kang, Associate Professor of Government and Adjunct Associate Professor, Tuck School of Business

Cambridge University Press 2002

Reviewed by Jeremy Presser '04

In the decades before 1997, South Korea was one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Along with Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong, South Korea was placed on a pedestal in the hopes that Third World countries would use its example in forming their own economic policies. Traditionally, the Korean success story has been chalked up to the adoption of Western economic and governmental practices. In his new book entitled Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines, however, David Kang explains that one of the main reasons for South Korea's rapid economic development was the presence of corruption. Kang argues that under certain situations in which there exists "a small and stable set of government and business elites," cronyism actually makes economic transactions more efficient. As long as business and government rely on each other for their own existence, the cycle of corruption can benefit the country. Confusing, then, is why the Philippine economy, also plagued by corruption, failed so miserably. Kang's book is largely devoted to examining this contradiction. Ultimately, the author differentiates between the corruption found in the Philippines and that found in South Korea. In South Korea, the corruption was between two powerful forces that relied upon one another for survival. However, in the Philippines, corruption swung like a pendulum between corrupt businessmen and an oppressive dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Because it was never clear how long one group would be in power, both the businessmen and Marcos essentially took turns bleeding the country dry. Kang explains perhaps the most difficult to accept of his premises, that corruption can be beneficial, when he writes about South Korea:

[Business and the state] each needing the other, neither able to fully gain the upper hand, state and chaebol [major businesses] were forced to work together. This view emphasizes the continuing collaboration between big business and the state, the state's reliance on the chaebol for political funds, and the inability of the state to push too strongly in directions that the chaebol did not wish to pursue.

Why Smart Executives Fail and What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes

By Sydney Finkelstein, Steven Roth Professor of Management, Tuck School of Business

The Penguin Group 2003

Reviewed by Jeremy Presser '04

During the 1990s, hundreds of companies were heralded as the saviors of their respective industries. They all seemed to follow the same pattern: analysts championed a company's potential, causing the company's stock to increase exponentially and allowing investors to make millions of dollars. Today, however, many of these same companies are struggling to survive, their CEOs reviled or even indicted. In his new book Why Smart Executives Fail and What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes, Sydney Finkelstein embarks on the most extensive examination performed on the subject of executives' falls from grace. The book investigates over fifty cases where companies experienced breakdowns and tries to find a common reason for their decline. Ultimately, the author concludes that it is an oversimplification to argue that the cause of each of these failures was due to executives' stupidity or even criminality. Instead, Finkelstein argues that a combination of factors, ranging from an unwillingness to adapt to change and an overestimation of the demand for a product to a refusal to listen to dissenting opinions caused breakdowns in so many respected companies. The author then uses each of these examples as a lesson to current executives, advising them on avoiding the problems that have plagued so many of their predecessors. Finkelstein points out post-World War II Boston Red Sox management, which for years refused to embrace racial integration, as an example of management using personal choices, rather than rational, evidence-based choices. Owner Tom Yawkey, supported by the organization, failed to recruit African-American players, who had proven to improve major league teams' performances:

The cronyism that developed became detrimental to the club, as management and hiring decisions were influenced by friends' feelings rather than objective, informed measures. It was this combination of weak leadership, and an organizational system that was only too happy to take advantage of these weaknesses to further their own prejudices, that held the Red Sox in place. Without a moral compass to break through the barriers, or a dominant logic to elevate organizational goals above personal ones, the Boston Red Sox organization choose to adopt an "irrational" strategy with severe, and detrimental, long-term consequences. The world changed for the Boston Red Sox in post-World War II years, and they were unable to change with it.

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