Twenty Eighteen has been an interesting year in Politics, Sport and, well, life. But with this list we’re taking it back to basics. Books glorious books. Heres a list of the best ones we read in 2018. They weren’t all necessarily released this year but we hope you enjoy as much as we did.
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From Eamonn Butler:
Recent surveys reveal a large portion of the British population to have a dim view of capitalism. And many on the political left, including the current leadership of the Labour Party, are committed to overthrowing it. That would be a disaster because, as Eamonn Butler argues in this introduction to capitalism, it is the foundation of our prosperity and of our liberal, cooperative and dynamic society.
In Ship of Fools: How a Selfish Ruling Class is Bringing America to the Brink of Revolution, Tucker Carlson tells the truth about the new American elites, a group whose power and wealth has grown beyond imagination even as the rest of the country has withered. The people who run America now barely interact with it. They fly on their own planes, ski on their own mountains, watch sporting events far from the stands in sky boxes. They have total contempt for you.
What makes the super rich tick? Is there a specific mindset that sets ultra-high net worth individuals apart from the rest of us? Are they meticulous planners – or is their wealth an unintended by-product of their entrepreneurial activities? Is it nature or nurture that sets them on the path to great financial success? This book represents one of the most comprehensive modern-day studies of the super rich.
This landmark work sets out the relationship between Western religious ethos and the emergence and growth of capitalism; its thesis being that the values of hard work and industry at the core of ascetic Protestantism made it possible for modern rational capitalism to flourish.
From Adam Bodd**ker:
Why should we never listen to people who explain rather than do? Why do companies go bust? How is it that we have more slaves today than in Roman times? Why does imposing democracy on other countries never work?
The answer: too many people running the world don’t have skin in the game. In his inimitable, pugnacious style, Nassim Nicholas Taleb shows that skin in the game applies to all aspects of our lives. It’s about having something to lose and taking a risk. Citizens, lab experimenters, artisans, political activists and hedge fund traders all have skin in the game. Policy wonks, corporate executives, theoreticians, bankers and most journalists don’t.
From Tim Worstall – a rather lighter selection.
Imprisoned in a fairy-tale castle and under constant threat of execution by his ruthless captor an 18th century apothecary struggled to realize the alchemist’s dream. His name was Johann Frederick Bottger. But instead of transforming base metal into gold he was to discover the formula for something even more exotic and elusive, a substance so precious it was known as ‘white gold’. And it was a formula for which others were prepared to lie, cheat, steal and even kill to possess.
Sounds a bit rip roaring and even bodice ripping but it’s a good little history. Probably best read as a warning against the absence of a patent system and the results of a system in which trade secrets are kept secret.
P.J. sets off on a world tour to investigate funny economics. Having seen ‘good’ capitalism on Wall Street, he looks at ‘bad’ capitalism in Albania, views ‘good’ socialism in Sweden and endures ‘bad’ socialism in Cuba. The result is the world’s only astute, comprehensive and concise presentation of the basic principles of economics that can make you laugh on purpose.
One of the great economics books for the general reader. If I ever do become Senior Lecturer at Islington Technical College it will be required reading. Contains more economics than entire degree courses at that institution.
The Royal Bank is facing a crisis, and it’s time for a change of management. Who would not to wish for that job?
You might think that Terry Pratchett is all swords and sourcery but this is perhaps the best refutation of the gold bug – and the modern monetary theory – case yet committed to print. Ripping yarn too altho’ there’s no bodice ripping.
Yes, a short list there but something for everyone perhaps.