If not as entertaining as Michael Lewis's The Big Short it was at least as well researched, and certainly offered more insight into John Paulson, doub...moreIf not as entertaining as Michael Lewis's The Big Short it was at least as well researched, and certainly offered more insight into John Paulson, doubtless the biggest winner from the housing collapse. Overall, though, not much new ground broken, and perhaps a bit too heavy on the descriptives regarding Gulfstreams, exotic dinner menus and other errata I found on the tedious side.
Curiously, I recall no direct statement by Cashman that he had actually interviewed Paulson in the creation of this book. Yet he often presents as though he's inside Paulson's head, watching his synapses fire. Perhaps such a statement was made and I missed it -- such is the curse of listening to audiobooks while driving -- but given Paulson's central role in this tale you'd think such a fact would have been repeated several times. If so, I missed 'em all. (less)
Quite simply, life is too short to waste it listening to an idiot babbling on about what boils down to Tinkerbell Economics ("If you just believe in h...moreQuite simply, life is too short to waste it listening to an idiot babbling on about what boils down to Tinkerbell Economics ("If you just believe in her, she'll come back to life!"). To say nothing of the fact that he incorrectly attributes a quote of Milton Friedman to Richard Nixon and couldn't bring himself to mention by name Warren Buffett regarding another quote. FTR, the first was the "We're all Keynesians now" quote, the second "When the tide goes out, you see who's swimming naked."
I think what truly left me agog is his claim that the problems of 2008 were caused primarily by...the media writing mean 'n nasty things. As if from 2002 to 2006 (perhaps even 2007) the media had done anything but laud every element of the bubble from mortgage originators like CountrySlime to Alan Greenspan to all the Investment Banks that went kaboom? And quote whoever the pet economist du jour of the National Association of Realtors not only uncritically, but glowingly?
And please note that I am not taking a swing at his "supply-side" ideology here, simply because he either never described how it is supposed to work, or I shut this insane gibberish off before he got there. Rather, I could simply only take so much BS. Sorry.
And although not precisely supply-side, there IS a superb free-market critique of the housing bubble already out there I offer as an alternative: Thomas Sowell's The Housing Boom and Bust. Even where and when I disagreed with Sowell's analysis, at least he sticks to the facts, writes without bombastic hyperbole, and leaves Tinkerbell in the fairy tale aisle. Check that one out, and do yourself a huge favor and pass this one by.(less)
I'm not sure if it was the narrator -- probably the most annoying in the history of audiobooks -- or the content that made me pull the plug on this on...moreI'm not sure if it was the narrator -- probably the most annoying in the history of audiobooks -- or the content that made me pull the plug on this one. Said content was like some strange time-warp to 1999 where the internetz was gunna revolutionize everything all god's children were gonna own their own submarines. Isn't there enough of this BS out there already? Whatever. But to believe this twaddle you need to be without critical faculty, without sense of history and utterly devoid of common sense. 'Course since that describes more people that not, I guess I just answered my own question.(less)
It is amazing to me how a truly good writer can take the most banal of topics and make it not only interesting, but downright gripping listening. And...moreIt is amazing to me how a truly good writer can take the most banal of topics and make it not only interesting, but downright gripping listening. And such is the case here. Following a tuna from catch to dinner table, following accountants as they go through their day, experiencing the beauty and joy of power lines, and on and on.
Curiously, the one area of the audio that struck me as weak and rather rushed was the very brief concluding section. You'd think a professional philosopher would have more to say in the way of conclusions, takeaways, etc., from his adventures about the human condition. But there seemed to be very little of that. (less)
Quite frankly I feel as if I were sold a pig in a poke with this audiobook. Farrell's politics intrude throughout, and this is not mentioned, though I...moreQuite frankly I feel as if I were sold a pig in a poke with this audiobook. Farrell's politics intrude throughout, and this is not mentioned, though I guess it is hinted at, in the book description. I don't particularly agree with his beliefs, but don't particularly disagree either. What bothered me was the hectoring, lecturing, superior tone apparent whenever something political came up...and this was about an every five minute occurrence.
And what sort of advice is offered? I'm embarrassed to say I can't really remember, three days after finishing the audiobook. As best I recall it was the usual bromides about saving, raising your children to be intelligent about money, and so forth. I do believe he contradicted himself, after a fashion, on paying for college. He kept citing his parents in this area, then later mentions something about college costs rising much faster than inflation, but also later compares debt levels of graduates of today vs. those of the past. Dirty pool, in my book.
I suppose the book would have been a bit more tolerable if the rhetoric had been toned down, or if I followed the same line he does in all things, but this is really one you can skip and miss nothing or pickup free from the library. After all, sometimes reminders of general principles can be a good thing. (less)
Too scattershot throughout, and too preachy at the end. The harsh and depressing reality is that the 21st century is going to suck for the average Ame...moreToo scattershot throughout, and too preachy at the end. The harsh and depressing reality is that the 21st century is going to suck for the average American, who will be lucky to enjoy the standard of living enjoyed by his great-grandparents. If you strip away Friedman's verbiage that's the straight-forward conclusion you're left with. (Even though I have no recall of him using terms like, oh, trade-imbalance, dissaving, or national debt. Though it might be interesting to ask why they were missing. They're really not part of globalization?)
Actually "verbiage" is putting it politely. Think hall of funhouse mirrors. Or not stopping with lipstick on the piggy, but adding a wig, high heels an evening gown and matching accessories. For whatever reason, Friedman is desperate to distract the listener from, well, what his eyes show him in his travels and to burble on about the potential wonders and joys of globalization. Thus you ask Miss Piggy if that gown is Dior, not why is it that Miss Piggy looks so porcine.
Whatever. Friedman makes a case about as well as you can for a thesis premised on nonsense. And the trends he's identified may in fact be irreversible, and are as likely to only pick up steam as do anything else. Whether we're fed continuous doses of Friedman's brand of Prozac or not. From him or others.
I just wish he'd been honest. What was that quote from that old but goodie Western, The Outlaw Josie Wales? Something about "Don't piss down my back and tell me its raining," perhaps? Except that in this world we live in the piss is seemingly flowing by the gallon. And Friedman wants us to consider it all Chanel No. 5. And perhaps most even do, well, for as long as they can.
Big egos, big money, arrogance, the stupidity of dinosaurs in a tar pit, yep, its all here. In almost overwhelming detail. Not my normal cup of tea, b...moreBig egos, big money, arrogance, the stupidity of dinosaurs in a tar pit, yep, its all here. In almost overwhelming detail. Not my normal cup of tea, but still interesting.
As a sidenote: copying the audiobook to my Ipod produced a nightmare of something like 900 "tracks," since each disc had a new track every 30 or so seconds. Thought that was a bit ironic, each time I hit the view by "song" button and this audiobook seemingling seemingly overwhelmed everything else. Plus, I think I may have missed part of at least one disc, since I put all nine discs in one playlist, and could never remember if I left off at track 438 or 483 or 384, you get the idea. The recording industry's revenge?
And to any high sheriffs who read this, I deleted the sucker the minute I finished with it, scout's honor. Illegal copying is actually not my bag, I've never done it and never will.(less)
Pluses: Interesting and accessible, makes some rather difficult material (esp. in Kant and Heidegger) understandable to the average listener, presumab...morePluses: Interesting and accessible, makes some rather difficult material (esp. in Kant and Heidegger) understandable to the average listener, presumably without distorting their messages too much. The section on Freud was also something of an eye-opener, as I'd never imagined his system worked quite the way Erickson says it did.
Minuses: Erickson can be extremely patronizing at times, though I doubt he even realizes it. He also seems to overdo the Midwest cornpone a bit for my tastes; if he was raised like that doubtless he's moved far beyond it. He also has a collection of stock phrases that grew quite tiresome after a while "let us meditate on," "we have reached a point in our journey," and a few others that seemed to crop up about every five minutes.
As to substance, I don't think his presentation of Marx was very well done, as best I recall he never explains why his starting point was Kant, and I found the last few sections, on existentialism (Sartre, Foucault, Habermas, etc.) close to impossible to follow...which may say more about the material than the one trying to explain it in laymman's terms.
I did enjoy it, I liked most of the survey, but I just can't bring myself to click on that 4th star.(less)
I suppose if there was a 2 1/2 star rating I could've seen my way to giving it to this one, but the author's approach seemed to come straight out of a...moreI suppose if there was a 2 1/2 star rating I could've seen my way to giving it to this one, but the author's approach seemed to come straight out of a tabloid. Irritating as hell. Everything was a personality conflict, everyone scheming against one another, no one having any clue what was going on in their CDO/MBS Hedge Fund. And damned litttle about how Ber Sterns got to where it was when the knives came out.
What this book needed was a whole helluva lot more analysis, financial, macroeconomic, whatever, and a whole lot less discussion of the sometimes bizarre behavior of the people leading Bear Sterns....And what was all that material about Lehman shoved onto the end of the book? It was almost as though he needed to puff the work up by 50 pages, was out of things to say about Bear Sterns, so let's chuck in something that is beyond a summary but is nowhere near long enough to tell the whole story.
Forgettable, unless watching re-runs of Dallas and Falcon Crest are what floats your boat. (Though I"m not so sure such a thing exists.)(less)
This audiobook sprawled across so many topics, nations, cultures, periods of history that a try to keep 'em short reviewer like myself is simply overw...moreThis audiobook sprawled across so many topics, nations, cultures, periods of history that a try to keep 'em short reviewer like myself is simply overwhelmed, raising a white flag and surrendering. I will say that Starobin is at his best when he acts as a reporter poking his nose into Chile, Turkey, China, Russia, and so on. In this guise he seems to adopt a rigorous code of objectivity, letting ordinary people speak for themselves, noting political developments and especially cultural ones. Where things get a bit iffy is when he moves into the role of Economist/Political Scientist/Grand Seer trying to peer down the road to see what the future holds. I think some of his personal biases begin to show, and that at least some of what he thinks may happen is wishful thinking.
Still and all an above average, thought-provoking work. And even where I am criticizing him, he at least acknowledges other viewpoints, and treats them with respect, even as he does his best to show the listener where these viewpoints are in error.(less)