Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: 21st Century Capitalism

21st Century Capitalism
21st Century Capitalism by Robert L. Heilbroner

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this book as part of the recommended reading in the first chapter of Richard W. Paul's Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life. To be honest, I was skeptical that it would hold my interest long enough for me to read it in its entirety. I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I enjoy the book immensely but I managed to read it cover to cover in less than a single day. True, the book is uncharacteristically small (a mere 118 pages) but my customary reading proficiency could easily stretch 118 pages over a couple of weeks. Most impressive of all is Robert Heilbroner's ability to clearly articulate a broad understanding of capitalism, the forces that drive it, the influence of politics on it (and vice versa), and the success and failure of the market system as the invisible hand that influences it to extrapolate some very sensible scenarios for the future.

Most notable of all for me is the the possible further insights into Heilbroner's chapter on the market system that could be gained in light of Daniel Kahneman's prospect theory I recently discovered in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Something I might endeavor to explore when time permits.

Finally Heilbroner's outline for a participatory economy seems to be a surprising accurate prediction of recent developments in how social media and crowd sourcing/funding have begun to appear on the economic landscape. Although it is still too early to tell these developments seem to indicate that we are starting to explore these avenues as possible alternatives to capitalism. Something he professed would not be viable in this century.

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Monday, June 4, 2012

Review: The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pretty interesting read. Follett's characters were surprisingly complex. Many of the protagonists felt like they were teetering on the brink of becoming major antagonists through-out the book. The intricate political maneuvering often pushing characters in directions they themselves were often surprised at.

Follett also seems to describe scenes of rape, animal torture, violence, and breast fondling with particular skill. I almost put down the book a few times to recover from a particularly gruesome passage...

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