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The Sovereign Individual: Mastering the Transition to the Information Age

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  708 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Two renowned investment advisors and authors of the bestseller The Great Reckoning bring to light both currents of disaster and the potential for prosperity and renewal in the face of radical changes in human history as we move into the next century.

The Sovereign Individual details strategies necessary for adapting financially to the next phase of Western civilization.

Paperback, 448 pages
Published August 26th 1999 by Touchstone (first published 1997)
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Gaurav Mathur
Implementation details of Atlas Shrugged.

Might have given it more stars, but my expectations were too high after this book getting stellar recommendations from people whose opinions I value.

So basically,

Lot of parallels between Church and Nation States -Like the Church fell in 1500s, the Nation State is falling now. Printing press killed the church. Internet is killing the nation states. Church was first ideal, and then corrupt. Politics was once ideal, now corrupt. Chivalry died 500 years ago.
Nicholas Moryl
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really don't know how to review this book. It's like Kevin Kelly meets David Duke. It's at times insightful and horrifying: it vacillates between fascinating foresight into technology's impact on societies (some of which is playing out) and naked racism.

The authors clearly have an axe to grind: they think poor people deserve to be poor, that (despite mountains of evidence to the contrary) minorities of all stripes have equal opportunities as those available to straight white males to succeed,
Dec 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Prescient AF. Predicts everything from Bitcoin to Trump.
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, review
- Positioning: Healthcare vs Technology; Skills + Connections
- Career: These is no "job", just tasks/skills you complete. If you can teach yourself how to SOLVE PROBLEMS, you are ahead of the game.
- Social/Political: PERSONALIZED, Democratized power.
- Psychological: Losing Ikigai -- prioritize your CREATIVE OUTLET!!!
- Political: Set up mat in multiple countries
ACTIONABLE: Hone in on two skillsets in depth. Capitalize on becoming the best. The Top 1% will take 99% of cu
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review
One of my favourite books is The Moral Animal. It does a great job of explaining the connection between the mental organs and behaviour, and does justice to the explanatory line on its cover - "why we are the way we are". I liked it a lot because it did a great job of helping me understand the reasons behind my mindset, relationships and interactions with the world at large. While that book helped me understand myself, this one helped me understand the world much better.
Considering that it was p
Jan 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Kudos to the publisher for finally making this available as an audiobook. I couldn’t imagine a title more suited to this format. The new 2020 preface by Peter Thiel is short but good. This book is a real eye-opener (or “red pill” if you prefer). The authors would be easily dismissed as crazed conspiracy theorists or fear-mongers, if it weren’t for the fact that so many of their predictions have come true since the last two decades that the book was published.

They managed to predict (with alarmi
Taylor Pearson
I read this book two years ago during the 2016 election. At the time, it was getting coverage in the Twitterverse for being both a good explanation for the resurgence of nationalist and populist ideologies, as well as the book that predicted Bitcoin (in 1997!).

I re-read it more thoroughly and got a lot more out of it having thought more about bitcoin and cryptocurrency more broadly in the intervening two years.

The authors look at the logic of the information age and forecast how we will see soci
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was ok
A jumbled mess of a book. It's written by two financial advisors posing as armchair historians. The book is loosely strung together by short paragraphs, each with their own title. The only parts worth reading are the sections on cybermoney.

They actually advocate moving your money to offshore tax havens in Bermuda and give you the name of the service to contact. Lots of cringey Bible references and quotes.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Equal parts history and prophecy, The Sovereign Individual is one of the most engaging books I’ve ever read. The reader doesn’t need to agree with all of the conclusions in order to get a lot out of it. This is a thinking person’s book and only those that want to be challenged will enjoy it - similar to Antifragile or Reality Transurfing. The authors predicted a rise in nationalism (the type leading to Brexit and Trump) before the new millennium—in 1997–writing, “Politicians willing to cater to ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Timely for sure and recommended reading for those who haven't in a time of COVID. But I searched for a coherent framework for a second time and still didn't find it. "Literary gumbo," indeed.

In a sprawling tangle of arguments, Davidson and Rees-Mogg construct a view of why nation states came into existence, why they are failing (1997), and the world and systems of human organization that will replace them.

The essence of the argument is something like this:
(A) Starting with the emer
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This was an extremely thought-provoking and unsettling book about the inevitable end of democracy and government as we know it.

It argues states are agreed-upon tools for social organization which are built on coercing money out of people in exchange for protection. This old agreement is now obsolete in the Information Age, where money is no longer tied to geographic location and people independently generating wealth object to states' draconian taxation.

There are also some extremely insightful
John Schneider
May 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Most of the time I read books that have interesting perspectives but little to pragmatic advise. Every so often I read a book that has amazing insight and strategy about details but very little comprehension of larger trends. "The Sovereign Individual" has both a grand perspective and detailed steps to take in order to profit from the transition that our world is going through.

Written in 1997 this work examines how information technology will reshape the world over the coming decades. It makes m
Taulant Ramabaja
Mar 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Predicted everything from Bitcoin to Trump and even crypto markets. However, it is obvious that the writers have a strong white supremacist worldview which spoils many of their conclusions. They also depended primarily on 2-3 very good, truly scientific papers from the early and mid 20th century. It is most likely more valuable to read those than this book. They employed no scientific rigor, mostly thinking by analogy. Many of their statements were factually wrong when it was written, let alone ...more
Paul Rosemeyer
The main thing I got out of this is that if you are not already a millionaire, or a "superstar", then you're pretty much f*cked.

Much of the arguments presented seem sound. The disparity between the rich and poor will increase greatly and at a faster rate. The rich will leave high tax sovereign states in favor of low cost alternatives. This will leave the poor to finance government which the poor simply can not do so nation states will fail.

All in all, a very bleak read which may explain why it t
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was rather alarmist and racist.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Although published in 1999 this is an excellent read which explains the industrial to information age transformation and its consequences. Several prediction are becoming reality already. [reading time: 21h]
Benjamin S Wood
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bdc
Still ahead of its time in 2016, and it was published in 1997. The sheer number of concrete predictions this book made that have already come to fruition is staggering. The historical, psychological, cultural, and technological analysis that undergirds those predictions is both fascinating and insightful (and - I believe - sound), and the thesis becomes all the more compelling as the reader is struck repeatedly by conclusions that have already come to pass or are in the process of doing so.

If t
Viewing high level history through a lens of Frederic Lane's concept of the economics of violence and protection, the authors provide an interesting take on how western culture got to where it is (as at the late 1990s, when the book was written) and where it is going in the near future. Some of the predictions are well done (terrorism, nationalism, and cyber-currency) but the authors have a strong libertarian bias which colours many of their opinions, and taints much of the prose as well. The la ...more
The Sovereign Individual is incredibly prescient for a book written in 1997. Had I read this book in its year of publication, I probably would have dismissed it as an alarmist-elitist rant. But reading it after two decades since its publication, I am quite surprised how accurate many of its prediction are. The authors rightly predicted the role of cyber economy, crypto-currencies, income disparity, automation of low skilled jobs, rise of nationalism & extreme right-wing groups across the globe, ...more
Michael Hirn
Jun 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing

Although written almost twenty years ago by James Davidson and William Rees-Mogg, former editor of The Times, The Sovereign Individual is anything but anachronistic.

Their insightful and often entertaining description of how the new technological advancements in communication and automation will affect nation-states, morals, society is fascinating. Only at a few occasions does it read like fiction. Their main arguments are backed by a vast amount of research and historical unfoldings, which m
Vikas Erraballi
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some parts are annoyingly weak but jouvenel is a tough act to follow

The author's most recent book published ~2014 sang praises for Brazil; it's publication marked a recent high in the Brazilian real and the political situation looks chaotic.

On the other hand Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies are at all time highs, and this was an older, bolder, and more significant implied prediction from The Sovereign Individual.

(I'm curious to know, anyone who knows their Nietsche and has read this book, ho
Oct 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book, written in 1996, predicted bitcoin, Catalonian independence, cyberwars, digital nomads, etc. They didn't really predict anything, they were more like deductions. They base their predictions on human behavior, go through the history and present their arguments. They don't get everything right, but it's insanely close. Their previous book predicted the collapse of the Soviet Union. They do seem to be very antigovernment but sometimes they have good points.
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very interesting book. This book cleared up a lot of my ignorance when it comes to the history of power distribution, nationalism and the downsides nations have when it come to waging useless wars. Highly recommend
Oleksiy Martynov
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ivan Izo
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can't say I agree with the authors of this 1997 book but it was certainly thought provoking and loaded with ideas.

The book's main premise is that nation-states will continue to decline worldwide. As long as the Industrial Age allowed the growth of jobs and improved standards of living, redistribution of the wealth worked (although inefficiently). As we move into the Information Age, there are fewer jobs for illiterates and those with low skill levels. Computers are making it easier for the ric
Enzo Altamiranda
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
According to the author, and against of what Hollywood would have us believe, love is not the most powerful human force, violence is. Those that have been able to wield it effectively and efficiently have directly or indirectly shaped the structure of our societies. This has been the case ever since we decided to stop spending our days foraging and hunting, and started living off of what the earth provided.

The dynamics of violence change from time to time thanks to technological advances. The r
Bert Bruins
May 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
It is seldom that I list or review a book that I couldn't be bothered to read in full, but I made an exception for this one. James Dale Davidson, a US investor, and (Lord) William Rees-Mogg (former editor of The Times and father of Jacob Rees-Mogg MP) wrote a series of books with predictions on world economics and politics in the late 1980s and 1990s. This is the third one of the series published in 1997. They got some things right and some things wrong (as predictions do), but their books are s ...more
Kevin Mackey
Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of the most thought-provoking, unsettling, and prescient books I've read. I dog-eared, highlighted, or underlined something on almost every one of its 400 pages.

Many of its predictions have turned out to be astoundingly accurate 20+ years later, e.g. Trumpism and cyber currencies. The jury is still out on some of its other predictions like the death of politics and the nation-state.

Key ideas include:
- The Information Revolution will reorganize life more thoroughly than the Agricultural Revol
Martin Brochhaus
Quite amazing how they wrote this 20 years ago and nailed pretty much everything.

Unfortunately, it has quite some swollen language and is incredibly repetitive, so it took me quite some time to finish this book. Also, the font and the paper quality is really shitty. I was just cursing that there is no Kindle version all the time while reading this.

The book does NOT really tell you how to prepare yourself for the paradigm shift (despite promising it on the cover and early chapters). It's more or
Justin Weiss
Sep 13, 2019 rated it liked it
It's a good thing I didn't read this one in high school, because I would have been _radicalized_. I was exactly the choir the authors were preaching to.

Today, I'm much more mixed. The book is, at its best, a surprisingly insightful theory + consequences. At its worst, it's a rambling, repetitive, right-wing political rant, full of "things you can't say."

I enjoyed the look back on major changes to society in the past, and what those transition periods were like. The lenses of the economics of vio
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James Dale Davidson is an American writer and private investor. He specializes in the domain of economics and finance. Davidson had a successful career as a financial advisor, and in the year 1969, he established the National Taxpayers Union. James Dale Davidson was an alumna of the Oxford University. He pursued an undergraduate degree in the institution. As of now, we aren’t aware of any addition ...more

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