Jun 3, 2007
It can't get funnier and more intellectual at the same time. This easily gets the title of the best book I've read this year (Yes......I am including the 7 Text books I read this semester and the 8th I am reading now). Besides, the author (P. J. O'Rourke), being a journalist, has an amazing ability to observe things. On his quest to find out why some places were rich and other places were poor, he decided to visit different economic systems: free markets, socialist and systems nobody could figure out. He visited economically successful societies: U.S., Sweden, Hong Kong; Economically unsuccessful societies: Albania, Cuba, Tanzania; and societies that hadn't decided whether to be successful or not: Russia and mainland China. The book was written almost 8 years back, hence not in sync with current economic scenario, yet the approach and observations are timeless.
The Book was first brought to my attention by none other than legendary Prof Mankiw. Well, as you'd have already guessed by now, he didn't tell me personally about it :-P. I picked it from his Summer Reading List (posted on his blog). I am done with 2 (Freakonomics being the second) and still gathering enough time and courage to pick the rest of the books on the list.
Coming back to the book I was talking about (Eat the Rich), what was most impressive was author's sense of humor while teaching some serious economics and trying to explain why things are as good or as bad as they are. Mid way his expedition, the author decides to go back to books on economic theory and even econ textbooks (Samuelson had his day!). What follows is a real treat for the readers of the book. The way he described what he was learning (not learning?) from the book and then paraphrasing the theories in his own style was just awesome. The high point of the book was the "Ten less basic principles of economics".
I usually read the book on the bus while going to office and I bet that a lot of people would have declared me insane if they noticed my not so infrequent giggling and smiling. With that much insanity at stake, this book is worth a read. For people at NUS, there is a copy at HSSML which is with me right now. You may want to reserve it before the person who read this blog post before you did :-).