Talk: Book Reviews

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Capital in the 21st Century

by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez
Thomas Piketty is a French Economist (and woman-beater), who used Emmanuel Saez's discredited research (study) on how things haven't gotten better for the middle class, as the basis for his new socialist manifesto called Capital in the 21st Century (a play on Marx’s Das Kapital). Economically, the study/book was crap: politically, it was gold. It told the left leaning and their media what they wanted to hear. So it made the NYT best seller list in Fan Fiction, and everyone talked about it. It was peer reviewed and debunked in spades, but not before the gullible gobbled it up as a tasty plate of confirmation bias. Nom nom.

City of Lies : Love, Sex, Death, and the search for Truth in Tehran

by Ramita Navai

“City of Lies” by Ramita Navai. Ramita is a bit of a Social Justice Warrior, traveling the world and telling you what's wrong with it. Tehran, Iran was seen through that lens. Still, very interesting vignettes that point out a lot of the hypocrisy and contradictions, as any outside culture would look to "outsiders". Definitely worth the read, if you like cultural travel books.

Countdown to Zero Day

by Kim Zetter

My knowledge runs deep into security, but I loved the book: through I wanted it a bit more technical in some areas and a bit tighter overall. Definitely a good book for futurists who want to think about what the future might look like as these hacks and attacks become more common.

The Jungle

by Upton Sinclair
A relatively unknown and failing author and Socialist by the name of Upton Sinclair wanted to write a political propaganda book, so he went under cover in 1904 in Chicago meat packing plants, and by 1906 he completed his semi-fictional hit piece called, "The Jungle". Teddy Roosevelt had immediately put a team of government inspectors on it, and they concluded in the Neill-Reynolds Report that the book was, "intentionally misleading and false", "willful and deliberate misrepresentations of fact", and "utter absurdity". Now it was the Progressive era, so the truth doesn't matter as much as the opportunity to regulate, so Teddy suppressed the release of the report to the public and used the book (by an author he had dismissed as a "crackpot"), as an excuse to create more federal government (the Pure Food and Drug Act, and the Meat Inspection Act), which later became the FDA. While the book and its ideas were completely debunked at the time, it's still taught in schools (Marxist re-education camp) today.

This was the start of what we called crony capitalism and the explosion of corruption: once the fed had control over things like this, you could pay-off the correct politicians to get past inspections, or guarantee your competition did not, which resulted in consolidation (reduced competition, and higher prices).

Liberation Trilogy

by Rick Atkinson

Rick Atkinson won the Pulitzer with his personalized view of WWII in Europe. From the invasion of North Africa, to the conquest of Italy (the forgotten war), through to the taking of Berlin, he enjoys quoting letters and telling stories from various men (many of which are destined to die). He loves the color and the humanizing of events, talking about the interpersonal politics of what was going on, all from a very western-centric view. But it gives his books a readability and different perspective than most others on the topic.

Lies the Government told you

by Judge Andrew Napolitano
Judge Napolitano offers a refresher (for political history buffs) of the 17th Amendment and some of the unintended consequences of progressivism: like the scope creep of the federal government once we removed the checks and balances that was the 17th.

Predictably Irrational

by Dan Arley

Fun book into what the author coins as Behavioral Economics -- which amusingly blurs psychological behavior (and human irrationality) with economics, and looks at how people behave. (Which isn't really economics, but amusing none-the-less).

Think like a Freak

by Steve Levitt & Stephen Dubner
I love the Freakanomics books and podcast. A lot of it is confirmation bias: I already think like a freak (much of the time), so most of their stories were snippets of things I'd read, or ways that I try to approach problems, or ways I like to think. But reminding me of all the unintended consequences, and remembering to solve the right problem, just makes me happy. It's easy to get in ruts, or think small, like answering people's questions -- instead of stopping, pausing, asking what they REALLY are trying to get to, and answering that instead.