Michael Lewis’ Undoing Project is a dual biography of Daniel Khaneman and Amos Tversky. The touching, personal narrative unveils the unique (and often cruel) circumstances that birthed their beautiful academic relationship. It is a meditation on scholarship and friendship.
Utility: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (3/5)
Lewis does provide a basic overview of biases and hueristics that is useful to new readers of the subject. But the deeper lessons have everything to do with the deep connections between scholarship and the authors that produced them. Although both were Isreali psychologists and certified geniuses, Khaneman and Tversky’s divergent personalities were the seed for much conflict in their partnership. The messy relationship behind clean, typeset papers teaches us that so much of the academic is personal. It’s a monument to both the power and struggle of collaboration.
Writing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5)
I think this is Lewis’ writing at its best. He is really forced to understand and develop two core characters which builds a depth of connection missing from other books (like Flash Boys or The Premonition). The pace and flow of the story are near perfect—a career journalist at his best!
- Both Danny and Amos were psychologists in the Israeli army and were shaped by Jewish identities. Even well into their academic careers, they returned to defend Israel and serve in the army.
- Their relationship went through numerous ups and downs. Amos was percieved as charming and confident, while Danny appeared quiet and doubtful. Amos recieved a larger share of praise and recognition, causing deep resentment between the two.
- The pair split shotly before Amos’ death. Ultimately, Danny recieved the Nobel Prize for their joint work.