What I’ve been reading

1. Larissa MacFarquhar, Strangers Drowning: Grappling with Impossible Idealism, Drastic Choices, and the Overpowering Urge to Help.  Profiles of people who are obsessed with helping others.  That is a wonderful premise for a book, somehow for my taste it didn’t run quite deep enough.  Still, many people will like this one a great deal.

2. Nicholas Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945.  I read only about a fifth of this one.  I thought it was a very high quality treatment of how German citizens perceived WWII, and also quite readable.  It didn’t match my interests at the moment, but I am happy to recommend it.

3. J.M. Coetzee and Arabella Kurtz, The Good Story: Exchanges on Truth, Fiction and Psychotherapy.  A running dialogue between Coetzee and a psychotherapist, some of it is interesting.  Some of it.  But after the early sections on the dangers of storytelling, I got bored.  Surely at some point empiricial psychology deserved a mention.

4. Harry G. Frankfurt, On Inequality.  A very short book, but longer than the blurb I wrote for it: “Economic equality is one of today’s most overrated ideas, and Harry G. Frankfurt’s highly compelling book explains exactly why.”

5. Philip E. Tetlock and Dan Gardner, Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction.  What makes some people very good at forecasting?  Self-recommending, here is a good Q&A with Tetlock.  The real question of course is why isn’t everyone working on this?


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