Even though this book is about as gripping as watching C-Span, I still rank it as one of my favorite reads because of how much it reveals not only about Washington politics, but the true depth of the US debt crisis. I have been reading other books such as The Real Crash by Peter Schiff and Endgame by John Mauldin that have been panned as being too alarmist and radical for suggesting the possibility of future weakness is the US government bond market. Bob Woodward's account reveals that by the end of the debt ceiling debate in 2011, Timothy Geithner was warning that we were literally hours away from a market panic, followed by the failure of a US bond auction that would set off a worldwide financial meltdown and a depression that would be worse than in the 1930's and the effect would resonate for generations. The deal that finally averted this disaster resolved nothing and simply kicked the can down the road until after the election. Round two is known as the fiscal cliff.
I wanted it to be good. The reviews on Amazon.com where great. I even restarted my Audible membership to buy it. But the narration was simply unbearable. It was like each sentence of the book was a bullet point in the longest Power Point presentation from hell. The narrator sounds like his expertise is reading the Federal Register. Pass on this one and listen to Command and Control by Eric Schlosser if you haven't already.
The book does a fairly good job of reliving the election of 2012 going all the way back to the earliest republican primary battles. There are allot of new and interesting bits. The kind of stuff that one says "I can't wait until the book is written on this to really know what happened behind the scenes." For example, how did Obama prepare for the first debate and what was the cause of his poor performance? Or how did the whole Clint Eastwood speech at the RNC go so wrong? But all together this is really just a recap of the media's portrayal of the election as a neck and neck fight all the way to the finish just with some extra insider perspective. There is no real explanation for how Obama won by such a landslide in electoral votes. I don't feel like I'm getting the real inside scoop, just a more in-depth version of what was portrayed in the media at the time. What about some insight into how new technologies where applied and what did the Romney campaign do to miss out?
The Multi-Bubble Economy Theory expounded in this book may sound simplistic and ridiculous but it is actually a brilliant Economic theory, that perfectly models all the complexities of the modern free market economy. It may not be supported by confusing Mathematics, but the idea of multiple bubbles expanding is so intuitive and easy to visualize it must be correct. This is the most groundbreaking work since the contributions of Adam Smith. Multi-Bubbles are so comprehensive an explanation they can be applied to just about anything. In fact if you look as hard as the authors have for things to label as bubbles you will be seeing bubbles everywhere. Not only was there an internet bubble, and a housing bubble, there was also a government bubble, a bond bubble, a military bubble, a bubble bubble and a gangman style bubble. Its so exciting, i’m in a lather just thinking about it.
Now, to the core prediction of the Bubble Theory, the absolute certainty of out of control inflation, greater than 10%, as a result of massive government stimulus and money printing. The authors were able to pinpoint exactly the time it takes for the inflation to begin after the money printing begins. The crystal bubble ball says that it can never take more than two years for the inflation to appear. Now since it has been over four years since quantitative easing began, and inflation has been quite stable, one might say that this book's bubble must have popped. But I say no, I say perhaps if you look more deeply you will see more bubbles. A bubble of lies, and a bubble of deceit by the government bubble.
Now that we know that high inflation is certain (and has already begun in a bubble of secrecy), and that all of our money will lose much of its value shortly. Let us review the fantastic two pronged approach the authors propose to help protect ourselves. First we should sell all of our real estate and other hard assets and deposit our rapidly devaluing money into savings accounts. Second we should invest our money in the authors’ financial service products. The authors’ advice to stress savings as a hedge to inflation may seem counter intuitive, but it is actually brilliant. How else would they have sold so many of these books?
Usually a novel is either full of unrealistic action, suspense and over the top plot twists or it is very realistic, believable and boring. But this book manages to both.
Spoiler Alert -- If two Americans who are traveling alone on a private jet deplane in Jamaica, the first one gets caught with 2 kilos of cocaine and a fake passport and the second one vanishes before anyone can question him, how is it that we are suppose to believe the second one is not going to be immediately suspected by the Jamaican authorities of having been involved or at least be sought for questioning?. Of course this is the somehow the best scheme the main character could come up with to get the first one in trouble but the second one who is the main character, while somehow not even being concerned that it might not work.The plane, the cocaine and even Jamaica all had nothing to do with anything except to fulfill this ridiculousness plan. It took half the book to set this up and this is the payoff?
Anyways, this read is very disappointing. I will definitely think twice before buying another Grisham novel again.
This autobiography offers no more or no less than what you would expect. The book provides a complete and satisfying account of his rise to fame and accomplishments. You can really get a sense of his mindset. He describes his poor rural life in Austria, coming to America, his body building days, Conan the Barbarian, Hollywood success, life in the Kennedy family, and finally his governorship. All the while he puts a strong emphasis on the virtues of hard work and salesmanship. Near the end he admits to cheating on his wife with the nanny, and says there was no excuse for it. He doesn't mention any other kinds of infidelity. He claims also that he is not trying to be a role model when he rides his bicycle in Santa Monica without a helmet. But at the same time he frames this book as a rich source self-improvement nuggets such as "do more reps", "don't be lazy", "your brain is like a muscle, exercise it" etc.
The first and last chapters are narrated by the author. The narrator of the other chapters however is not Schwarzeneggerish in any way and refuses to use any accents at any time even though he almost slips a couple times when delivering some classic Schwarzenegger one liners.
My wife loves this book because it helps her to fall asleep. I agree with the other reviewer that Boomerang covers the same ground in a much more engaging way.
I guess it goes without saying that this book does not offer a balanced perspective. But the level of animus and hatred that oozes out of every paragraph is absurd. In the authors desperation to find stuff to complain about, he spends half the book raging not against Barack but rather against Michelle Obama, painting her as some sort of evil puppet master. Most of his evidence is in the form of “He said, she said” White House gossip, such as what Bill Clinton was overheard saying to Hillary at a White House dinner. Apparently Bill told Hillary that Obama was an Amateur, and that Hillary should run as the Democratic Nominee in 2012. This supposed view of Bill Clinton’s is the foundation of the whole book, hence the title “The Amateur.” But this little tidbit of gossip was very clearly debunked at the Democratic National Convention when Bill Clinton gave the most rousing and full-hearted support behind Barack of any speaker by a factor of four.
In this book, the author tries to show how the Bush administration acted with ignorance, stupidity and outright maliciousness leading up to and in response to 9/11. Most of the book is spent describing in great detail newly available details of the torture of terrorist suspects and the decisions of officials that lead to it. In particular a narrative that runs throughout the whole book is that of Kuwaiti Ahmad El-Maati. He is supposedly a completely innocent Canadian Muslim truck driver and family man who as a result of bumbling by the Canadian and US intelligence services was sent to Syria for some very intense and brutal torturing. All the gory details of these torture sessions are weaved into the narrative throughout the book to disgust you and to keep the sometimes dull story interesting. The author argues that torture as a interrogation technique never works. And that as one study has shown, being nice to and empathizing with terrorists is the most effective way to get them to talk.
The author does have a unique perspective on Tony Blair’s role. He presents him at first as making wise and practical choices, and suggesting to Bush in private that he was making the wrong choices. Knowing on the other hand that any disagreement with Bush in public could damage the relationship and even make it more difficult to persuade Bush not to invade Iraq. However, it seems that after a few friendly and intimate meetings, Blair drank the cool aid and became a true believer in the Bush doctrine.
The narrator does a great job with this audio book. He had unique and convincing accents for all the characters ranging from President Bush, Dick Cheney, the Muslim terrorists, and even Tony Blair and his staff. Amusingly though, he makes Blair sound allot like Oliver Twist.
Overall I would say that if you were angered about the decision to allow torture in the “War on Terror”, than this book is definitely for you. On the other hand if you are looking for a historical perspective that reports the facts without the bias than much of this book will disappoint because the details of many of the successes are ignored.
This is a great introduction to the US debt problem. It reveals where the US debt came from, how big it is and why it is such a difficult problem to solve. In this short book Wessel paints a fairly clear picture of what America is spending its money on. He shows how entitlements such as social security and medicare as well as the military contribute greatly to the debt problem. He shows that the only way to solve the problem is to both significantly reduce spending and increase taxes broadly. Small changes, however, such as raising the eligibility age of social security or increasing taxes only on the rich can not resolve the issue. Without large substantive changes, the debt problem will only continue to get worse.
The book lacks a discussion of what would happen eventually if nothing is done. Instead it focuses on the current stalemate between the republicans and the democrats. He shows how the plans of those on the right, such as Paul Ryan, differ from those on the left, such as President Obama.
All together this is a very good introduction at explaining what the debt problem is. But if you already know some of what it is, maybe you would be more interested in a book that examines the consequences of not fixing it, such as "Endgame: The End of The Debt Supercycle And How It Changes Everything" by John Mauldin
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