The Oil Kings is definitely a worthwhile read. I would recommend it to anybody interested to know what happened in the 1970s oil shock. The author has a deep understanding of the internal politics that drove the US-Iran relationship during that era and for that this book is absolutely wonderful. The one gripe I have with the book is that it oversimplifies the price setting mechanism for oil. If the author could have done more work on the supply demand and long term supply shortages that had developed over time, the book would have been more credible as a complete explanation of the oil story of the era. However, this is more of a story about the Kings and less about Oil. It's great for what it is, but could have been a great book with a little more balance about how oil prices actually come about. Even during the oil shock, politicians can only raise the price if the market warrants it.
The book was great in collecting examples throughout history that extractive political and economic institutions cause nations to fail. In some sense, it should be obvious. It's what libertarians have been saying for hundreds of years. The book gives examples after examples of how this has played out in history. However, the book stops short. Why are high taxes not an extractive political structure? Yes, you can have high taxes in a democratic society where the 80% take money by taxing the wealthier 20%. Why is that not an extractive poiltical structure? France is democratic and has just elected a president suggesting a 75% tax on the wealthy. French government spending is over 50% of GDP. Why do the authors attack China for having extractive economic and political institutions? Much of Europe is taxing like it is going out of style. Yes free markets always help. Free societies with clear property rights will do better. This is obvious. But why do the authors somehow stop short of questioning the big government tax and spend culture of much of the developed world? If somebody takes away 75% of your earnings, that's pretty extractive.
This was an incredibly enjoyable book on all levels. You just have to admire the tenacity and intellect of Einhorn. It would have been the easy way out to cover the short on Allied and let it go, but he stuck with it as he had strong conviction. The amount of detail in his research is astounding. You have to hand it to Einhorn: he deserved to come out victorious in the end. He just did his homework better than anybody else.
1776 tells of the ups and downs in Washington's command portraying him as a person with real human frailties. But this book is not a critique of Washington. Far from it. Despite all his imperfections, one cannot but come away with great admiration for Washington realizing all the stresses he must have gone through and how he kept up the morale of his men despite overwhelming odds. The book makes the reader think about how Washington must have felt and how his unwavering belief in his cause and his strong moral character kept the army together. 1776 was a tough year for America and it's amazing that Continental Army pulled it out. Highly recommended! I could not put it down.
For somebody who wants to know why the Berlin fell
An anthropologist's view on money was very refreshing. We always think of money from the economist's perspective which can at times be a little dry. The author gives just the right mix of interesting tid bits on money and a constant theme to tie the book together...that while money has greatly advanced society, history repeats over and over the folly of too much money creation.
The book was well read so that it is easy to follow even at 3 times speed.
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