I found this book to be a fascinating look at the markets' behavior over the past 50 years. The author deftly relates the past with that observed in the recent down turn. I feel that I have a much greater understanding of some of the significant factors that led to the series of crashes in 2007 & 2008. It is a definite listen for anyone interested in finance's recent history. It is not an introductory level book though. I am not an expert and have no formal education in finance & economics so it is not an overly academic read. However, if you aren't familiar with terms such as quantitative easing and securitization and don't want to take the time to look them up, then you can get confused quite quickly.
My only criticism is as follows. The theme of the book is that markets are so interconnected that a seemingly unrelated investment can be dramatically affected by the (often illogical) actions of other markets. There is not much emphasis on how one would use this knowledge to avoid past mistakes.
I have done several ironman triathlons & marathons and I have been interested in doing ultras so I was looking forward to this. The story line of a talented elite athlete squandering his talent because of alcohol then turning his life around (partially) through proper diet and sport is an inspiration. The story as written inspired me to turn it off. His musings are contradictory and idiotic. In one statement, he will claim that his time away from work to train didn't affect his family's finances. Soon after, the attorney with a rich client base states that he couldn't buy food during a long ride as his bank account was overdrawn. To make the tale even more illogical, he then claims his out of body experience was not the result of low blood sugar (an experience that many an athlete has experienced) but rather an epiphany or other mystical event. When he started in on the spiritual gods of the Hawaiian volcanoes, I just could take any more and had to cut my loses.
It's long and the first few hours are a bit slow but it is well worth the time to listen. I like history but thought my knowledge of WWII was enough for me to understand its importance. After listening to this book, I am beginning to sense that I knew very little. Listening to this while on work/vacation in Poland made me regret my lack of understanding. It is the kind of work that makes you want to learn more and more.
My only minor criticism was that the narrator did not attempt to do an impersonation of Churchill. Churchill's speeches are memorable and inspiring but are more appreciated in that unique voice. Check out 'The Storm of War' for a few good examples.
Although the author is a bit more flippant than necessary when describing some of the details, he is clearly an expert who takes his job seriously. This is a straight forward look into psyche of some very dark-hearted killers. If you do a lot of jogging on lonely park trails (as my wife and I often do), you may find yourself opting for the road more traveled for a week or two! This is a must listen for anyone interested in the learning about the criminal mind.
I was hoping this book would be an insightful look into human behavior (along the lines of Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely). Instead I struggled to listen to the first 2 hours of this pointless, politically-guided, psycho-babble until I could take no more. The authors seem to believe that cognitive dissonance (a way of reconciling one's "bad" behavior with the self-perception as a "good" person) drives all thoughts and behaviors. Although this is true for all of us some of the time, it is not for most of us most of the time. Sometimes we know what we did was bad and change because we have learned from the mistakes of our past. The title would more aptly read, "Mistakes Were Made (But NEVER By Me): Why We NEVER Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions and Hurtful Acts (And NEVER Learn From Mistakes)." If it had such a title, I would never purchase it as it would be based on a clearly false premise.
As a runner and triathlete, I had heard a lot about this book and was excited to listen to it. From the first chapter, I could tell this was going to be one of those books that only the non-athlete (or very novice athlete) could believe. This is not meant to be condescending (although I realize it sounds that way!). The author's love of minimalist-shoe (and barefoot) running is in direct contrast to his personal use of a modern running shoe. In another instance, he claims Lance Armstrong ran his first marathon (NYC where he ran an impressive sub 3 hr debut) while 'needing to eat a gel every mile'. Anyone who has done distance running knows it is highly unlikely that anyone COULD eat 26 gels in a marathon (maybe if you walked an 8 hr marathon). In almost the same breath, the author implies that we could all do just fine (if not better) by just taking in water and eating chia seeds. You don't need to be much of a runner to imagine the carnage that would follow a modern marathon with only water and chia seeds offered at the aid stations. His criticisms of shoe companies' over-emphasis on cushioning and motion control is well-founded but his conclusions (i.e. that we would all be fine if we just threw out our shoes and ran like our ancestors) are far too extreme and would lead to a huge spike in serious running injuries. Bare foot run training and minimalist shoes have their place in modern running; this book does not.
This is a great book for understanding the history and workings of markets and central banks. It is not a light listen but if you pay attention, you will gain an understanding of how government central banks can influence modern economies and markets. This book helps to explain how the reactions of the central bankers of the US, Britain, France and Germany to the economic challenges faced at the end of WWI led to financial chaos which made possible the rise of radical elements in Germany. The author does this by going into extensive detail of each of the central bankers. This makes the story much more personable and a bit less esoteric--no small feat when considering the topic.
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