I chose this book hoping to learn something useful about our economy. Instead I got a book that seems to be analogous of it: disjointed, complex, totally mysterious and above all, resembling an enormous Rube Goldberg machine with levers and buttons that the servants of the moneyed class pull and push like children running rampant on an active submarine. When it sinks, they will all point the finger of blame at someone else. I have long suspected this; Stockman’s book proves it. Or, at least I think it does. I could almost hear other people with his background shouting refutations and angry rebuttals at his interpretation of things.
The greatest genius in the world teaches no one if he will not speak on their level. If portions of this book were accidentally shuffled on an iPod, how would you know? Knowledgeable authors are able to present things in a simple-enough manner to get their points across, while the ignorant ramble on as if they have insight and savvy flowing over. This author handles his subject as if it is so sophisticated that it can only be talked about using a never-ending stream of esotericism; acronyms, abbreviations and similes practically tripping over one another. I know the world of high finance has a language of its own, but,..“If the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who shall prepare for battle?” One gets the idea he is trying to impress the reader. Mostly he baffles him.
While the disproportionate level of black incarceration reported in this book is shocking enough to rally the objective minded into accepting the idea that racial bias is to blame, with deeper thought we can see how easily disparate causes may be conflated in this issue.
Is it honest to lump the high number of incarcerated black males into the same group as if all of them are victims, even if the legacy of unfair discrimination prejudices us in that direction? How many of the jailed group got there legitimately? The idea that the “get tough on crime” philosophy decried in this work is a conscious effort to herd black men into jail is the sort of comment that depends heavily upon white guilt, a tactic worn threadbare from overuse. Are we expected to follow some kind of quota system so that only a proportionate number of black offenders are taken off the street?
The author insists that the war on drugs is a vehicle of oppression. But having identified it as such, why does she not encourage resistance to this exposed enemy? Why not rally African-Americans to reject illegal drugs and the culture that sustains those drugs, now that the way forward is clear? Instead she uses the malady as an excuse, blaming the usual suspects, as if a group can truly grow strong by compelling another group to lift them out of a pit. Nay! I have seen and known far too many tough and admirable African-Americans to buy this argument.
And as other reviewers have noted, to conveniently leave out the pivotal detail about Ricky Ray Rector’s execution—that he damaged his own brain with a suicide attempt—leaves a hole in her credibility one could drive a truck through.
I bought this course after having listened to or read a number of books on economics. I have been trying to find the person who has some idea of what we should expect in the future. A fool's errand? Not as much as one may think!
The course is about as comprehensive on the subject as a reasonable person could expect. He begins with the basics: what money is, and then proceeds gradually to the point where one cannot keep up without being able to look at the visual aids he refers to. Beware, this is a deeper subject than you may have thought.
My only real criticism is that when he mentions the sub-prime mortgage collapse he seems to be obtuse about what the prime mover of the fiasco was, namely government pressure to lend money to folks who could not afford it. He mentions this not at all. He gives no mention to what I saw on a firsthand basis: Persons who became mortgage brokers almost overnight during the early 2000s, who had money to loan to anyone. "If you know someone who wants to buy a house, send them to me. I have people who want to lend money!" they spouted cheerfully. I thought it peculiar at the time but after the collapse came I learned that most of the badly written mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, quasi-government organizations who took any and all paper off the hands of these unscrupulous agents. These ubiquitous brokers generated mortgages solely for the fees they could charge, only to unload the risk on the taxpayers via Freddie and Fannie. To neglect this aspect of the collapse is hardly commendable. It leaves the student uninformed of something very important. Is there a political allegiance here? I wonder.
Nonetheless, he redeems himself at the end where he states flatly that without a policy change a crisis IS coming. He does not elaborate but seems to assume that his listener now has enough information to reach that conclusion on their own. I guess that's so. This prof. is one of many economic gurus who see trouble on the horizon.
What everyone should know? Indeed!
If you can imagine a good thing I might say about this book, count it said! I have bought an ink on paper copy to share with friends and family.
This ranks right up there next to Catcher in the Rye as one of the classic, must-read, books I have read to round out my literary education that I simply do not see the value of. I understand Vonnegut may have been an important eyewitness to history, I just don't know why quasi science-fiction is the proper place for anything credible. Perhaps I should get cliff notes or spark notes to help me understand. But I question why something as important as a wartime holocaust should be ensconced in something so mysterious. Yes, it is true, war makes no sense. Call me a hick, a philistine or a drudge; I just don't see what is great about a book that requires someone to explain its meaning to readers. Maybe one man's literature is another man's nonsense; maybe the king has no clothes. I suspect some motive beyond literary content motivated this books publication. It wouldn't be the first.
This book was very informative. But I couldn't help but think that some of what the judge calls lies are simply different versions of history. He disagrees with many Supreme Court decisions. Don't we all? The judge is free to say what he wants because most of the people he criticizes are not able to give their version of events. But, to be fair, most books are that way; feeding their target audience. He calls Lincoln a "tyrant." Many people called him that; he was not all that popular while he was in office. But if all tyrants were like Lincoln I could deal with it in a time of serious crisis. He believes FDR provoked the Japanese into war so American would fight in Europe. I can see how he feels that way. I have wondered the same thing myself. But what would the world be like if we had not stopped Hitler? His criticism of the Japanese internment during WW2 was like all of it is: anachronistic. I was afraid he was going to say that 9-11 was an inside job but he didn't. I would have sent the book back if he had said that. If everyone in the country felt as strongly as the judge does about our government Washington would have a lot to answer for. The government manipulates people. It is happening as I write this and most people are happy with it. Call me jaded and cynical. What else is new?
I enjoyed the first installment on this trilogy, Fall of Giants. I looked forward to the second. I will not listen to the next one. Whether Follett portrayed a number of his characters with contemporary social/moral sensibilities for the sake of pandering to his readers or because of his own ignorance is beyond me. Few young girls in the 1940's even knew what oral sex was, let alone surprise a man with it. Ask an octegenarian, if you can find one who will not think you are disgusting for bringing it up. And if you were homosexual during WWII, you surely kept it a secret. Even during the VietNam years--and I am young enough to know firsthand--nobody was "okay" with homosexuality, open or otherwise. But giving credit for the Marshall plan to George Marshall because his name was on it stunk to high heaven. The idea came mostly from President Truman. He put Marshall's name on it (with Marshall's permission) because he needed to use the man's popularity to get the thing passed. Follett should have known that.
No question Cormac is tops with words. But I kept wanting to go back and re-listen, thinking I must have missed something, because I had no idea what the book was trying to convey. Does a theme of raw human brutality on the wild frontier have some transcendent purpose I am too thick-headed to apprehend? Apparently so. One good thing about this kind of audio is that if I ever run out of fresh things to listen to, I can always put this on and enjoy McCarthy's word craft. But if there was some "take away" in this, I missed it. Really liked The Road and will probably listen to No Country at some point cause I loved the movie. But then again, there are a number of highly acclaimed works that I have failed to "get."
I learned more about cadavers than I wanted to know. The book was informative and comprehensive. The subject of rotting human flesh is handled in a matter-of-fact tone that I suspect would bother some. I don't know why anyone would do the research to write it unless there was some surety of great success. Some of it was plain yucky! I can imagine more squeamish folks not finishing it. If I could do it over, I would not buy it. Not because it offended me but because this is a subject that even Mary Roach's homey style cannot make pleasant and the knowledge gained was of minimal value. Sadly, this book may define her writing in my mind. Not good.
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