The Economists’ Hour: False Prophets, Free Markets, and the Fracture of Society
By: Binyamin Appelbaum
Format/Source: eARC courtesy of the publishers via NetGalley
In this fascinating character-driven history, a New York Times editorial writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist spotlights the American economists who championed the rise of markets and fundamentally reshaped the modern world.
Before the 1960s, American politicians had never paid much attention to economists. But as the post-World War II boom began to sputter, economists gained influence and power — first in the United States and then around the world as their ideas inspired nations to curb government, unleash corporations, and hasten globalization.
Milton Friedman’s libertarian ideals, Arthur Laffer’s supply-side economics and Paul Volcker’s austere campaign against inflation all left a profound mark on American life. So did lesser-known figures like Walter Oi, a blind economist whose calculations influenced President Nixon’s decision to end military conscription; Alfred Kahn, who deregulated air travel; and Thomas Schelling, who put a dollar value on human life.
The economists promised steady growth and broadly-shared prosperity, but they failed to deliver. Instead, the single-minded embrace of markets has come at the expense of soaring economic inequality, the faltering health of liberal democracy, and the prospects of future generations.
Timely, engaging, and expertly researched, The Economists’ Hour is a “powerful must-read” (Mohamed A. El-Erian, New York Times bestselling author) about the rise and fall of a revolution-and a compelling call for people to retake control of markets.
I mentioned it in another review earlier this week that I was in an economics sort of mood at the moment. So here I am reviewing this book. Which is also pretty cool in that this is the first ARC that I requested for in aaaaaaages. This book was released on 03 September 2019.
The Levelling: What’s Next After Globalization
By: Michael O’Sullivan
Format/Source: Hardback; my purchase
The world is at a turning point similar to the fall of communism. Then, many focused on the collapse itself, and failed to see that a bigger trend, globalization, was about to take hold. The benefits of globalization–through the freer flow of money, people, ideas, and trade–have been many. But rather than a world that is flat, what has emerged is one of jagged peaks and rough, deep valleys characterized by wealth inequality, indebtedness, political recession, and imbalances across the world’s economies.
These peaks and valleys are undergoing what Michael O’Sullivan calls “the levelling”–a major transition in world economics, finance, and power. What’s next is a levelling-out of wealth between poor and rich countries, of power between nations and regions, of political accountability from elites to the people, and of institutional power away from central banks and defunct twentieth-century institutions such as the WTO and the IMF.
O’Sullivan then moves to ways we can develop new, pragmatic solutions to such critical problems as political discontent, stunted economic growth, the productive functioning of finance, and political-economic structures that serve broader needs.
The Levelling comes at a crucial time in the rise and fall of nations. It has special importance for the US as its place in the world undergoes radical change–the ebbing of influence, profound questions over its economic model, societal decay, and the turmoil of public life.
I heard about this book from an article that was featured in The Economist sometime during the summer. It’s a topic that’s become increasingly highlighted given events around the world. So I picked it up as it was just published sometime over the summer (I was going through a sociopolitical economics phase in my reading over the summer. Summer reading fun, eh?)
Kids These Days: Human Capital and the Making of Millennials
By: Malcolm Harris
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
Millennials have been stereotyped as lazy, entitled, narcissistic, and immature. We’ve gotten so used to sloppy generational analysis filled with dumb clichÈs about young people that we’ve lost sight of what really unites Millennials. Namely:
– We are the most educated and hard-working generation in American history.
– We poured historic and insane amounts of time and money into preparing ourselves for the 21st century labor market.
– We have been taught to consider working for free (homework, internships) a privilege for our own benefit.
– We are poorer, more medicated, and more precariously employed than our parents, grandparents, even our great grandparents, with less of a social safety net to boot.
Kids These Days, is about why. In brilliant, crackling prose, early Wall Street occupier Malcolm Harris gets mercilessly real about our maligned birth cohort. Examining trends like runaway student debt, the rise of the intern, mass incarceration, social media, and more, Harris gives us a portrait of what it means to be young in America today that will wake you up and piss you off.
Millennials were the first generation raised explicitly as investments, Harris argues, and in Kids These Days he dares us to confront and take charge of the consequences now that we are grown up.
I ended up picking up this book after reading an article recently on Buzzfeed, How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation and how it perfectly encapsulated the challenges and realities our generation faces. I was curious to read more analysis on the matter so I picked up this book.
The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity
By: Nancy Gibbs & Michael Duffy
Source: eBook; my purchase
The Presidents Club, established at Dwight Eisenhower’s inauguration by Harry Truman and Herbert Hoover, is a complicated place: its members are bound forever by the experience of the Oval Office and yet are eternal rivals for history’s favor. Among their secrets: How Jack Kennedy tried to blame Ike for the Bay of Pigs. How Ike quietly helped Reagan win his first race in 1966. How Richard Nixon conspired with Lyndon Johnson to get elected and then betrayed him. How Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter turned a deep enmity into an alliance. The unspoken pact between a father and son named Bush. And the roots of the rivalry between Clinton and Barack Obama.
Time magazine editors and presidential historians Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy offer a new and revealing lens on the American presidency, exploring the club as a hidden instrument of power that has changed the course of history.
I picked this volume up around the time of former President George HW Bush’s funeral. There was a lot of talk about the small club of former presidents and how they only meet on occasions of presidential libraries being open and funerals, and I remember coming across this book time and again so I decided to check it out.
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
By: Stephen King
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999–and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it–fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.
I haven’t read much of Stephen King’s works although his stories are well known and I’m aware of many that he’s written. I’ve often seen On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft in many lists about the craft of writing so it’s long been on my list of books to check out. I suppose after experiencing a bit of a frustrating drought on writing recently I decided to pick this book up to spur my creativity onward.
What can I say about this book? He does a wonderful job of weaving lessons on writing with his own experiences and journeys as a writer, providing examples, and giving sage advice that he had learned over the years. I didn’t know much about Stephen King’s life and how long he had been writing, so I learned quite a bit there as well. For fans and readers of his book, this book is quite the treat in that he gives a behind-the-scenes insight to his novels, where he got some inspiration from for some of his novels, and so forth (I’m always a bit fan of reading the behind-the-scenes stuff). From a writer’s perspective though this book is quite comforting: he’s straight-up about his advice, but at the same time he reminds the writer that you’re writing to write, you’re writing for yourself, that you make the rules because it’s you putting down those words.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading On Writing. Part memoir, part writing advice, an excellent read all around.
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