Sunday, July 10, 2016

Book Review: Currency Wars by James Rickards

Currency Wars illuminates global currency management by states and other large actors in the most easily understood way.  The first section was interesting if difficult to get through since it focuses on the authors self aggrandizing experience trying to inject aggressive monetary policy into the Pentagon's war game simulations.  Parts 2 and 3 however are easily accessible and fascinating.  I immediately wanted to re-read them and plan on doing so soon.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Book Reivew: A Guide to the Good Life; The Art of Stoic Joy

Review: A Guide to the Good Life; The Art of Stoic Joy
Author:  William B. Irvine
Published Date: 2009

  A great primer to Stoicism with lots of practical exercises.  Good explanations of things like 'negative visualization'.

Book Review: The Better Angels of Our Nature

Review:  The Better Angels of Our Nature
Author: Steven Pinker
Published Date: 2011

  'Better Angels' serves both as a wonderful survey of historical violence perpetrated by both individuals and states, as well as a mountain of evidence for the FACT that the world is getting less and less violent every year.  Pinker, being a professional academic and educator, takes a very even-handed and dispassionate view on the very political topic of violence.  Don't let any local news broadcast ever convince you that the world is getting worse because we have been on an almost unbroken trend of decreasing violence for centuries.

A Note: Nothing is Precious

     I have allowed a wide gulf to grow between the reviews cataloged here and the actual books I've read.  None of my reviews are particularly brilliant so why should I ever delay publishing one under the pretense of improving it.

     I'm lowering the bar for myself and focusing on just keeping up from now on!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: Rise of the Warrior Cop

Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces
Radley Balko
Jul 9, 2013
400 pages

  I've been a fan of Radley Balko's reporting for at least half a decade.  He has a way of reporting serious or tragic events with humor and intelligence that makes them both palatable and understandable.  He is the journalist responsible for compiling the incidents of wrong Botched Police Raids mapped out at the Cato Institute.
  This book seems to be about half new content and half a compendium of his best articles. I enjoyed it although there wasn't too much I didn't already know.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Book Review: Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises

Review: Manias, Panics and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises
Author: Charles P. Kindleberger & Robert Z. Aliber
Published Date: 2011

  Kindleberger's book was full of fascinating historical anecdotes but unfortunately seemed to get muddled by it's non-chronological style.  Early on the book introduces Hyman Minsky's three part taxonomy of finance (Hedge, Speculative, & Ponzi) and continues through history using these classifications to explain various well known economic events.
  They style of the book was exemplary as a dispassionate and informative review of a highly politicized topic. I couldn't pin down the authors personal opinions yet he still discussed "fringe" areas of economics, like Austrian economics, with the same deference as more mainstream schools. 
  All in all, this book is probably meant to be more of a reference book or academic study book rather than to be read straight through by laymen.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: Debunking Economics

Review: Debunking Economics - Revised and Expanded Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?
Author: Steve Keen
Published Date: October 25, 2011

  As I mentioned in my review of The Myth of the Rational Market, I've never studied economics formally, so this book was simultaneously an introduction to, and debunking of  modern economics all in one shot.  Steve Keen sets out to explain the field to both economists and laymen without the use of equations, and he's successful in that to a moderate degree.  Sometimes when reading a two page description of an economic model, I did find myself wishing he'd just include the relevant equation so the mathematically inclined reader could digest the information a little faster.
  This was a terrific follow up to The Myth of the Rational Market since it tells a more in depth (and agenda-backed) story of a few of the big names introduced in Justin Fox's book.  It also takes on most of the economics concepts with which the average non-economist is familiar. For example showing how the inverse relationship between supply and demand is far from a "law", demonstrating the faulty logical leaps from single-variable to multi-variable modeling (also referred to as aggregate supply and demand). 
  This book is full of challenging ideas and I'll probably have to read it and review it several more times throughout my life before I'm able to really summarize the ideas contained competently.