It feels slightly disturbing to read this book so soon after Fukuyama's Trust
and even more so the same week that This American Life aired episode 459, What Kind of Country
, in which they chronicle disturbing societal breakdowns. Schneier covers trust, tradeoffs, more (and more interesting!) Prisoner's Dilemma discussion than any three books on Game Theory, evolutionary theory, economics, politics, current affairs.
What I found most interesting was his frank discussion of scaling problems: Trust and security models that work at a tribal level do not work at a multinational level. I also appreciate his reinforcement that defection can be good and is necessary for a society to work: the people who helped slaves escape the American South in the nineteenth century were defectors.
Solutions? No clean ones. Just lots of material to think about. Unfortunately, policymakers are probably not the kind of people who read Schneier; or, for that matter, who think. So the final few chapters were doubly depressing: because they call for difficult analysis and thinking, and because we know that this thinking will not take place in the current U.S. political climate.
A note about the format: this book does not work on Kindle
. Too many tables and diagrams that just don't render well.