This was my first book about pure economics (vs. economic history) and I learned a tremendous amount. Skousen takes a circumspect approach to each school of thought, briefly addressing the biography of each character and then describing his ideas and their ramifications.
It's worth pointing out that book is really about the big 3 schools of thought, rather than just the central personalities of the "Big Three". Skousen addresses the primary evangelists of each school who followed the three greats as well. Overall, his coverage of the topic felt thorough as he deftly switches between history, the nuts of bolts of each theory, and the effects of each.
One word of caution, however. I expected this book to be more "Just the facts, Ma'am" as it discussed each school of thought, leaving true evaluation of the theories up to the reader. However Skousen's neo-classical bent comes through almost immediately. His opinion is well-reasoned and I found myself agreeing with it almost unanimously, but the title left me expecting something slightly different than what the book delivered, which made it a 4-star overall.
The reading didn't detract from the text. Hey, we're talking economic theory, right? How much do you expect with regards to dramatic reading?
I enjoyed Mr Gladwell's reading thoroughly. His delivery and voice are well suited to reading and I always enjoy hearing an author read their own material.
As for the content, he provides a well-needed dose of appreciation for the myriad factors that contribute to the success of those who we often see as "self-made". I especially enjoyed his candid discussion of culture as it ventured into topics some people would consider taboo (i.e. why do Asian students consistently perform so much better at math?). I certainly hope that those who have the power to reform public schools take some of Mr Gladwell's insights to heart regarding summer breaks, and grade-year age cut-offs.
The books only shortcoming is that Gladwell significantly underplays the individual characteristics of the highly successful people he profiles (i.e. Bill Gates) in order to support his thesis. He talks at length about the "10k Hour Rule" all the while downplaying the tenacity and focus of any individual capable of spending 10k hours on a single activity in order to constantly improve.
This is underlined by his admission (in the post-book audio interview) that his narrative of the Bill Gates story ends when Gates graduates from High School and that he has virtually no interest in the story after that. It strains credulity to believe that very many people, even if presented with the same challenges as Gates, would have spent 10k hours programming in high school and college, or would have entered the computer business with the same vision that men like Gates, and Steve Jobs, and Eric Schmidt possess.
In the end a fair treatment of the topic would have acknowledged the role that both individual characteristics, and circumstances play in understanding success. That being said, I recommend the book for the valuable perspective it adds to our understanding of those individuals who have risen to the top, and how they got there.
As I think back over the over 30 books I've listened to since joining Audible, this was my first listen and is still my favorite.
Call it voyeurism, curiosity, or whatever you like, but how many times do you get to hear a story from someone who witnessed it first hand and is such a powerful storyteller? Krakauer is gritty, circumspect, and at times raw in this gripping narrative, and to hear him read it makes this a true gem in the audiobook library.
One bit of practical advice, though. While Krakauer does an excellent job of describing the climb and the disaster, as someone with no knowledge of Everest, I found that a little accompanying research on the Internet illuminated his descriptions. I have since purchased a hardback copy of the book and there are maps and photos in there that bring one more level of depth to the book, but I was able to see a lot of the same information by researching the events online.
Only my second Heinlein book, but the story was fantastic. Outstanding technical detail for the nerd in you. Grade-A science in this sci-fi novel. Short story, but still packed the underlying morality that makes sci-fi a truly powerful genre. All in all, the book has it all, good science, exciting story, and a little bit of moral brain-food as well.
The reading was fantastic as it is really more of an audio play involving multiple actors. The book is set in first-person narrative so the reading really works and all of the characters read their roles exceptionally. This book is highly recommended and one of best experiences I've had in almost 20 audible books so far.
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