The Hot Hand: The Mystery and Science of Streaks

Ben Cohen. Custom House, $32.50 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06282072-3
In this meandering debut, Cohen, a Wall Street Journal sports reporter, asks what makes for winning streaks. The “hot hand” of the title is the state of being in the zone, of making one win after another, seemingly effortlessly. Cohen’s lifelong love for basketball is an excellent excuse for exploring why this happens, which he does through stories of a high school basketball team that used data to improve its game, as well as through a video game developer, a viola player, a sculptor, and many others. Is the hot hand real—can a person or team identify what led to a winning streak and thus replicate those factors? Sometimes, waffles Cohen, and when one can harness a streak, it’s a lucrative and rewarding endeavor. The narratives are reasonably entertaining and the math persuasive, but without much rationale except expressing the author’s love for basketball, the execution is unfocused. Readers looking for an answer as to whether they can strategize their winning streaks could be forgiven for wanting something more decisive than the author’s tepid “well, kinda.” Agent: Eric Lupfer, Fletcher & Company. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 12/23/2019
Release date: 10/01/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-06-282074-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of HarperAudio
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