1. Ronald Bailey, The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century. Good arguments all around, and he covers climate change too. My worry is a political economy one: if we can’t handle small amounts of immigration or trade competition from China without flipping out, how will we fare with forthcoming environmental problems?
2. John Gimlette, Elephant Complex: Travels in Sri Lanka. An informative and entertaining look at an under-covered country. (If you’d like a critical review instead, try this one, but I followed up on some of the criticisms and was not persuaded by the attempted takedown.) This NYT article suggests (correctly) that now is the time to visit Sri Lanka.
3. Sally Denton, The Profiteers: Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World. A good history of one epicenter of crony capitalism. I had not known what an important role Bechtel played in the early construction of nuclear power plants. Here is a good T.J. Stiles NYT review of the book.
4. Joanna Masel, Bypass Wall St.: A Biologist’s Guide to the Rat Race. Darwin plus Fred Hirsch on positional goods as applied to finance and portfolios. Unorthodox, interesting.
5. Stephen Stigler, The Seven Pillars of Statistical Wisdom. What are the seven foundational pillars of statistics? Beautifully written.
Peter McPhee, Liberty or Death: The French Revolution. More of a browse so far, but I have positive impressions of this new Yale University Press book.
Jeff Gramm’s Dear Chairman: Boardroom Battles and the Rise of Shareholder Activism is a very useful and well-researched book, focusing on shareholder rights and control issues in the earlier history of corporate America.
Cecil E. Bohanon and Michelle Albert Vachris, Pride and Profit: The Intersection of Jane Austen and Adam Smith, my blurb refers to it as a “tour de force [which] ties the worlds of economics and literature together, leaving the reader delighted and informed along the way.”