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Mobs, Messians and Markets

14 Apr 2010

One of the reasons I started writing book reviews was so that I could take the time to coherently write a few paragraphs of summary on a book. It changes how you read–it’s a more critical eye, because when you find things you disagree with you want to note them so that you can reference them later while writing. Some books require a very critical eye, others, whatever.

And some books have me realizing that the review is going to be wildly negative within the first 40 pages. I didn’t really expect this to happen, but it’s made me start a habit of putting down bad books. I don’t read enough as it is, and I don’t want to waste that time on garbage. Reading with an eye for a basic review, even if nobody reads these things, has given me the ability to see, clearly, when a book is not worth it. I have decided I will start to write reviews of the ones I stop, because I think now that it’s just as important to write down these thoughts as the ones I have when I finish a book.

So Mobs, Messiahs and Markets is one of the books I will not finish. It made the rounds on the blogs a while ago, and during a recent internet outage I picked it up from the basement. It does not appear to have anything to say.

It reminds me in a big way of Kunstler’s The Long Emergency. Namely, the author states a point he wants to make, then writes 20 pages of self-righteous, anecdotal crap, rarely tying it to the core issue. He rambles on, blaming society’s failures on the usual things that one could roughly associate with traditional American conservatism, rarely offering solutions, hard data, or more importantly, a framework for abstracting these complaints into part of a coherent point. It just comes off like a really long-winded old man complaining about the kids on his lawn.

The table of contents betrays this lack of substance. There’s no progression of ideas, no buildup to a point, just several ‘topics’ with barely-witty names, like ‘Empire of Delusion’ and ‘Love in the time of Viagra’ (which is the second chapter, and appears to be the usual conservative rant about how much it sucks that girls wont do what they say anymore). In part 6, ‘Far From the Madding (sic) Mob’, he offers a chapter named ‘How not to be chumped by Wall Street’. Perhaps this chapter contains actual, practical information, but I will never see it.

It’s unfortunate. In trying to figure out what the hell it is that Mr Bonner and Ms Rajiva are trying to say, I think I might often agree with them. But near as I can tell, this book is just fear mongering, the sky is falling, the world is changing. Maybe a political and/or financial collapse is forthcoming, but this book is no way to discuss it.

Save your time, non-existent reader. A number of economics blogs provide significantly more insightful examinations than this book.