What I’ve been reading

1. The People’s Act of Love, by James Meek.  You wouldn’t think a Brit could imitate a 19th century Russian novel, but he pulls it off.  Excellent mid-brow fiction, give it a few chapters to grab you.

2. The Singing Neanderthals, by Stephen Mithen.  The author starts with sexual selection theories of the arts, and then asks why we sing in large groups rather than exclusively one-to-one.  The Neanderthals are portrayed as a static culture, dependent on music for their communication, and thus unable to come up with new ideas.   Recommended for those who like just-so stories and yes that includes me.

3. Capital and Collusion: The Political Logic of Global Economic Development, by Hilton Root.  Here is the book’s web pageHilton will be moving full time to George Mason, School of Public Policy.

4. Polio: An American Story, by David Oskhinski.  There are few Pulitzer Prize-winning works you can gulp down and enjoy in a single brief sitting, but this is one of them.

5. You Must Set Forth at Dawn: A Memoir, by Wole Soyinka.  Wonderfully written, sadly he doesn’t seem to see why capitalist enterprise is important for Africa.

6. The Book of Lost Books: An Incomplete History of All the Great Books You Never Will Read, by Stuart Kelly.  Aeschylus, Dante, Kafka, and many others wrote works that were lost, destroyed, or never finished.  (Hey, what about the missing second volume of Hayek’s Pure Theory of Capital?  You know, the one where he integrates the theory of money and capital?)  Here is the history of those works, in bit-sized, ready-to-consume form.  Here is one good review.  If you are tired of popular literary treatments which simply recycle material you already know, this book is for you.  A gem.

7. "The only irreducible reward"…

Comments

You have a large intellectual curiousity. Breadth is like trivia, interesting in small doses, but really boring in large ones.

I recently finished Sowell's Black Rednecks and White Liberals, 1776, and Paul Revere's Ride. Also read How Capitalism Saved America a few months ago.

Just finished 'White Man's Burden' by William Easterly over at NYU. Great examples of his theory of 'Searchers' versus 'Planners' - essentially, those trying to find ways to help LDC's move to first world status by supporting projects they initiate, along with looking for accountability in their outcomes. This versus the tried and true IMF/World Bank structural adjustment programs wherein (long story short) trillions have been spent and little is there to show for it. There was a great (but not the friendliest, as I recall) review of this by Amartya Sen in Foreign Policy..now where the heck did I put that?

Highly recommended, regardless.

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