PositiveAir MailIt made me understand that one kind of carelessness can be born of great wealth—but another kind can be born of great conviction. In addition to being a Shakespearean tale of human nature, Empire of Pain offers several lessons about our world ... His book is a testament to the power of the deep document dive, to the importance of talking to that \'category of employee who might have seemed almost invisible to the family,\' from housekeepers to doormen. That kind of journalism remains the reason why even the greatest of fortunes can’t buy the one thing its heirs want most: secrecy.
PositiveThe Washington Post... wonderfully detailed ... [Berfield\'s] story is about the past but also very much about the present, as our own Gilded Age raises old questions about inequality, plutocracy and what Roosevelt once called \'that most dangerous of all classes, the wealthy criminal class\' ... Berfield obviously did an extraordinary amount of research, and she draws heavily on documentary evidence to paint detailed pictures. This sometimes comes at the expense of clarity. I found myself reading a Wikipedia entry on the creation of Northern Securities to sort out what had transpired...It’s a tangent that doesn’t go anywhere and diverts from the drama of the strike ... And the book may make you both sad and mad, because it serves as a poignant, painful reminder of what a real leader does.
MixedThe Washington Post... especially in this uncertain, insecure climate, the thesis is important and worth repeating ... Correlation is one thing, and causation another. Shaxson doesn’t prove the latter. But he makes some provocative arguments ... Shaxson also makes one of those wonderful points that is so insightful, it seems obvious in retrospect ... Shaxson also is obsessed with offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands. His obsession might be to the detriment of this particular book ... tossing in unsavory characters who may or may not be figments of his imagination, along with random and unprovable references to possible criminality, only muddies the issue ... Shaxson has some simple, lovely lines...But for the most part, he prefers to bounce quickly from one scandal to another and to pile on descriptors ... It’s exhausting. More important, it loses the reader who is looking for clear analysis, rather than fevered rhetoric, the reader who wants to be shown how it is, rather than told how it is. And so, while Shaxson’s book grapples with one of the most critical economic issues of our day, he ultimately may not convince anyone who doesn’t already agree.
PositiveThe Washington Post\"... a timely work ... While [O’Toole\'s] book is not an easy read — he has never met a detail he doesn’t like — it offers important insight, especially for anyone who thinks the kind of change we seem to want will be easy.\
MixedThe Washington PostWinners Take All is so readable because it is told through characters ... Giridharadas isn’t just raising questions. He’s come to big conclusions: that MarketWorld, along with its philosophical antecedents, like Carnegie-ism and neoliberalism...has been an abject failure. To prove his point, he doesn’t engage in any specific analysis. In fact, he doesn’t even mention, let alone examine, what is arguably MarketWorld’s most powerful and influential actor: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. As big-picture proof of the failure of the status quo, Giridharadas cites his indebtedness to Thomas Piketty’s \'masterpiece\' on the growth of inequality, Capital in the Twenty First Century. He argues that any thesis that the world has actually improved over the course of human history is simply a form of brainwashing ... For readers who are cynical about the private sector but also versed enough in history to be cynical about governments, the book would have been more powerful if Giridharadas had stayed within his definition of an old-school public intellectual: someone who is willing to throw bombs at the current state of affairs, but lacks the arrogance and self-righteousness that comes with believing you have the solution.
MixedThe Washington PostAs fascinating as Cowen’s analysis can be, his grand thesis is ultimately unconvincing. I had a hard time understanding who exactly composes the complacent class. Initially, Cowen argues that the entire country is complacent, that despite the huge divisions of race and income in America, we are all 'more or less OK with this division of the spoils.' Can this be right? I wanted Cowen to offer some evidence, but I was hard-pressed to find it other than in Cowen’s assertions. Throughout the book, he redefines who it is he’s calling complacent ... Partly because Cowen isn’t clear as to who the complacent class is, it’s also not always clear that his data supports his thesis ... In the end, his point might be that some of us are complacent about certain aspects of life, and while there might be some benefits to this, there are also dangers lurking. Which makes for a book that accomplishes the laudable goal of making you think, if not one that delivers on its title.
Joseph E. Stiglitz
PanThe Washington PostEarly in the book, Stiglitz writes that he made a decision not to recount the birth of the euro, which is a shame, because this story is crying out for narrative, characters and nuance. Instead, Stiglitz has written a polemic, one that reads like a series of loosely stitched-together lectures ... Another downside to his style is that it strips the humanity out of the story.