What I’ve been reading

1. Amy Willentz, Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter from Haiti, and Jonathan M. Katz, The Big Truck that Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.  Two excellent recent memoirs on what has been happening in Haiti post-earthquake.  My main complaint is that both books are marred by the same mistake in economics, namely starting with “small amounts of foreign investment haven’t done Haiti much good,” and moving to “Haiti should not be focusing on foreign investment.”  With so many lives at stake, that is a tragic and indeed needless error in reasoning.

2. Janan Ganesh, George Osborne: Austerity Chancellor.  A good profile to read for understanding how the modern UK arrived at the point it is at.

3. Zareer Masani, Macaulay: Pioneer of India’s Modernization.  A good profile to read for understanding how the earlier UK, in its colonial empire, arrived at the point it is at.

4. Franklin E. Zimring, The City that Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and its Control.  A useful and engaging survey of some of what we know about urban crime, and it knows not to reach too far.  Police crackdowns on open-air drug markets is one factor which receives some credit.

5. Ian W. McLean, Why Australia Prospered: The Shifting Sources of Economic Growth.  The writing is not exciting, but nonetheless an interesting look at the longer-run history of Australian prosperity.  I had not known that the nation was the wealthiest in per capita terms for part of the late 19th century and then underwent considerable stagnation in the first half of the 20th century.


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