Revised my thinking
Having heard him live, that same charisma he projects comes through the audio.
Not necessarily. But I did listen to the book more than once.
I have always found Niall Ferguson, in his books and lectures, to be insightful and thought-provoking. 'Civilization' may be the best example of this to date. Here is one example of a perspective that I found very instructive, Ferguson includes in his list of explanatory variables for the acceleration of civilization in the West the role of Protestant churches. But he goes beyond the obvious, the Protestant work ethic, to explain how church communities and the mutual trustworthiness they engendered enabled smaller merchants early access to credit and so develop early forms of supply chains in the fledgling free-markets of the colonial US (and Northern Europe). He also differentiates between monopolistic and ‘free market’ religions. The former refers to the state religions common in Europe, the latter to the open market for religion in the US. And clearly, churches and church-going have flourished in the US where free-market competition compelled churches to adapt to the changing needs of their congregations. Without that competitive motive, churches in Europe have stagnated or declined.Agree with Ferguson or not, this is a highly informative and enjoyable listen. And I must add, the voices used for quotes that several reviewers complained about I found neither distracting nor offensive. Niall’s reading of the text was articulated very clearly and sufficiently animated, enhanced all the more by that Scottish accent that I have come to enjoy.
D'Souza has always been a breath of fresh air in today's mangled political discourse. Amid the pseudo-intellectual and outright fanciful commentaries from both the right and left, D'Souza injects an intellectual rigor, in-depth research and a cogent writing style in promoting his conservative perspective. As a centrist, D'Souza has been a important source of factual information and intelligent reasoning for the conservative side. And indeed in "Roots" he came through once again.
However in the chapter on economic policy D’Souza descends to over-simplification, calculated misrepresentation or naïveté. This chapter would have you believe that TARP, FinReg and stimulus spending were all engineered by Obama as part of a grand scheme to weaken post-colonial America. But the design of these policy measures were not conceived in the White House, but by a diverse group: Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Paul Volcker, Tim Geitner and Henry Paulson (from an earlier administration). And I don't think you could argue that all these individuals share this anti-colonial viewpoint.
To demonstrate the `obvious' failure of stimulus he posits: Party A (taxpayer) gives money to Party B (Government). Party B now spends more, but Party A now spends less. Conclusion: No increase in economic activity--stimulus fails. Trouble is Party A is not a taxpayer, it is the Chinese. The Chinese give the US government money (i.e. buys our bonds) which is spent; current period economic activity/GDP must increase. Of course this has other rather negative consequences. But it is either a naïve or a purposely misleading to explain stimulus this way, one worthy of Glenn Beck.
Despite my disappointment in D'Souza in this section, I think this is an important book and would recommend it. There is enough substantive information here to overcome my misgivings.
Only 1 hour in length, still I couldn't get through it. The audio track was just too annoying. The narration is constantly accompanied by sound effects aimed, I'm guessing, at creating a horror-film like mood. But these effects are so loud that it sometimes drowns out the narration. And it gets to be tedious very quickly, and ultimately it becomes highly aggrevating. Because of the distracting sound effects it may be a bit unfair to critique the narrator, but it did seem to come off as a very flat reading. It had all the drama of someone reading a cake recipe. The female voice never conveyed the suspense and menace one would expect for a reading of Edgar Allen.
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