1. Gaël Faye, Small Country. Short, readable, and emotionally complex, one of my favorite novels so far this year. Think Burundi, spillover from genocide, descent into madness, and “the eyes of a child caught in the maelstrom of history.” Toss in a bit of romance as well.
2. David Edgerton, The Rise and Fall of the British Nation: A Twentieth Century History. I’m only on p.34, but this one is spectacular and I expect to read it closely all the way through. You’ll probably hear about it more in future blog posts. He takes on many myths about British postwar decline, for instance, arguing that British business actually did pretty well in the 1950s and 60s. Right now it is out only in the UK, but the above link still will get you a copy. Here is a good Colin Kidd review in New Statesman: “Every so often a book comes along that the entire political class needs to read.”
3. Karl Ove Knausgaard, Inadvertent (Why I Write). 92 short pp. on how he thinks about writing, consistently high in quality, the contrast between Kundera and Hamsun was my favorite part.
Laurence M. Ball, The Fed and Lehman Brothers: Setting the Record Straight on a Financial Disaster is a very serious and useful book. The Fed could have saved Lehman Brothers and didn’t, partly because of political pressures, and partly because they underestimated the damage it would cause to the economy. Ball documents what I have supposed from the time of the event.
Cass R. Sunstein, The Cost-Benefit Revolution. Not since the 1970s has cost-benefit analysis been as underrated as it is right now.
Joy Lisi Rankin, A People’s History of Computing in the United States appears to be interesting. It tries to liberate the history of American computing from the usual emphasis on Silicon Valley, and offers greater focus on Dartmouth, Minnesota, and other less studied locales.