What I’ve been reading

1. Deep South, by Paul Theroux.  It’s OK enough, but Theroux’s best writing was motivated by bile and unfortunately he has matured.  Still, he can’t get past p.9 without mention Naipaul’s “rival book” A Turn in the South.  My favorite Theroux book is his Sir Vidia’s Shadow, a delicious story of human rivalry and one of my favorite non-fiction books period.

2. Elmira Bayrasli, From the Other Side of the World: Extraordinary Entrepreneurs, Unlikely Places.  A well-written, completely spot on analysis about how the quality of the business climate needs to be improved in emerging economies, and about how much potential for entrepreneurship there is.  If economists were to do nothing else but repeat this message, the quality and usefulness of our profession likely would rise dramatically.

3. Michael White, Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir.  Nominated in the non-fiction National Book Award category, I actually enjoyed reading this one, all of it except the parts about…Vermeer.  It’s better as a memoir of alcoholism and divorce, interspersed with visits to art museums.

Tom Gjelten’s A Nation of Nations is an interesting “immigration history” of Fairfax County.  I enjoyed Deirdre Clemente’s Dress Casual: How College Students Redefined American Style.

Jennifer Mittelstadt’s The Rise of the Military Welfare State is a useful history of how a social welfare state for the military was first created, for recruitment purposes, and then  later dismantled.

I recommend L. Randall Wray’s Why Minsky Matters: An Introduction to the Work of a Maverick Economist, forthcoming in November.  Minsky isn’t so readable, but Wray is.  I’ve just started my review copy, I hope to report more on it soon.


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