Book Review: The Up Side of Down, by Megan McArdle

Originally published in the February 21st, 2014 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. Reprinted here with permission. If you don't already receive it, sign up here to receive a bi-weekly dose of readerly goodness in your inbox.

Megan McArdle is no stranger to failure. She has a failed engagement and a failed stint in investment banking to prove it--but she also has a loving husband and a career as a business writer for the Economist and other magazines and websites. How does one move from such failure to such success? That's the key question behind The Up Side of Down, as McArdle explores our current thinking about failure and how we can learn to embrace it as individuals, as businesses and as a society.

McArdle comes at failure from every angle, starting with the brain science behind our aversion to risk and ending with the problems of our conventional forms of punishing failures--and the need to forgive both ourselves and others when they occur. Each chapter is peppered with anecdotes from her life (including the failed engagement and her mother's life-threatening surgery) and examples drawn from current events (such as the bankruptcy at General Motors and the state of American penitentiary parole programs). Written with a journalistic flair, her personal anecdotes supplement the facts and figures--and help break up what could have been monotonous reading. As with many business titles, the actual data found in The Up Side of Down is not necessarily new or surprising, but it is compiled in such a way that McArdle succeeds in making us reconsider the failures of our past--and how they can better shape our future.


The Up Side of Down: Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success | Megan McArdle | Viking | February 2014 | Hardcover | 320 pages

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