The Undoing Project by - Michael Lewis-1

The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis delves into the lives and work of two renowned Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman.

My interest in this book was piqued when I discovered that Malcolm Gladwell, one of my favourite authors, mentioned Lewis as his own favourite writer in several interviews. 

As a fan of Gladwell’s work and his captivating podcast, my anticipation for Lewis’s masterpiece reached a fever pitch.

Needless to say, The Undoing Project lived up to my expectations, offering an enthralling exploration of the psychologists’ world. 

However, I must admit that I find Malcolm Gladwell’s writing style more engaging and effortless to read. 

His books usually take me only two or three days to finish, while The Undoing Project demanded a longer commitment.

Nevertheless, Michael Lewis’s work remains a fascinating read, and I eagerly embraced the opportunity to delve into the minds of these two extraordinary individuals.

Diving In

Initially, the book’s first chapter, titled “Man Boobs,” left me wondering if I had picked the right read. 

While I was aware that the book focused on two psychologists and their exploration of judgement and decision-making, the chapter’s abundance of basketball references proved challenging to engage with, primarily because I have little familiarity with or interest in the sport.

However, as the story unfolded, I became captivated by the childhood backgrounds of these two extraordinary psychologists. 

Their tales of living in constant fear of the Nazis, surviving war-torn conflict zones, and their unique experiences in school, as well as the development of their interest in psychology, proved utterly engrossing. 

The deeper I ventured into their lives, the more I found myself absorbed by their incredible journey.

Complementary Forces

The two psychologists were strikingly different individuals, like yin and yang.

One was a pessimist, self-doubting, subdued, somewhat of a loner, a survivor, and a peace-seeker. 

He was an early riser, constantly hopping from one idea to the next.

In contrast, the other was an optimist, self-assured, popular, a warrior, and a fighter.

He was a night owl, keen on refining ideas and shaping them.

His clever and cheeky antics, like opting for math to bypass language barriers, brought humour and laughter to the story.

Despite their differences, both possessed unmatched intellectual vigour.

Their complementary traits fostered a deep friendship and intellectual collaboration that spanned over a decade. 

Their dynamic approach to pursuing ideas, developing theories, and presenting their work was nothing short of enlightening, sparking numerous “aha” moments.

This exploration of the human mind enhanced my reading experience and piqued my curiosity.

Their relationship, often likened to the bond between two people in love, was a unique connection forged by their brilliant minds.

A Roller Coaster of Emotions

The unravelling of their relationship bears a striking resemblance to the breakdown of a marriage: one partner yearns for freedom, while the other clings tightly to the bond.

Trivial matters such as the order of names on a research paper, nominations for awards, and the perceived inequality of recognition for their collaborative efforts begin to chip away at their once thriving partnership. 

The lack of validation in private interactions only exacerbates the situation.

It’s a stark reminder that even the most brilliant minds are not immune to the emotional ups and downs that affect us all.

Throughout the book, the reader is drawn into the fascinating duality of their lives as they navigate between their roles as academics and soldiers.

If the beginning of the book starts off slow, the final chapters are a whirlwind of intensity.

Through the accounts of those close to them, one can almost hear their laughter echoing from behind the closed door, where their world existed solely for the two of them.

The journey through various scenarios crafted by these remarkable men was both enlightening and transformative, shedding light on the irrational nature of human behaviour.

A Story of Friendship, Joy, Sorrow, and Pain

Ultimately, the tale of these two psychologists’ friendship, joy, sorrow, and pain left a lasting impression.

It’s difficult to choose specific highlights—there are simply too many. 

Furthermore, focusing solely on specific moments may obscure the broader understanding of their story.

Thus, I wholeheartedly recommend reading the book, particularly if you have an interest in psychology.

By the end, I found myself in tears, profoundly moved by their journey. 

I’ll share just one quote that continues to resonate with me:

Life is a book. The fact that it was a short book doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good book. It was a very good book.

Amos Tversky

For Psychology Enthusiasts and Curious Minds

If you:

  • Enjoy learning about psychology and human behaviour
  • Appreciate stories of deep friendship and intellectual collaboration
  • Want to understand how emotions affect even the brightest minds
  • Are intrigued by the impact of war and adversity on personal growth
  • Seek to gain new perspectives on human decision-making

You’ll love this book.

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Where to Get “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds” by Michael Lewis and More Inspiring Books

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Final Thoughts: A Fascinating Tale of Two Brilliant Minds

In this book review of “The Undoing Project” by Michael Lewis, we delved into the captivating story of two renowned Israeli psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. 

We explored their contrasting personalities, their intense relationship, and the emotional roller coaster they experienced together. 

This book offers a profound insight into the world of psychology and the human mind, making it a must-read for anyone interested in understanding human behaviour and decision-making.

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