Reviews by wfzimmerman
THE BOTTOM BILLION by Paul Collier
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An important book on an essential subject. Collier masterfully reviews the academic literature on development and identifies four statistically significant "traps" that cause nations to remain in poverty. For all its insight, though, this book would be better if informed by a wider range of disciplines and cultural perspectives.
THE GHOST by Robert Harris (spoiler)
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This is a deeply silly book, a roman a clef about Tony Blair and his horrible foreign policy of allying with America.

Spoiler Warning:

the denouement reveals the explanation for Blair's massively unpopular alliance with America during the Iraq war: his wife was recruited by the CIA when she was at Harvard in 1976.

Really, if you want an intelligent take on current international affairs, try Vincente Fox's memoir, in which he comments that he (Fox) is absolutely confident that Bush believes that he has done the right things, and that the great irony is that of course, Bush could not be more wrong.
POTSHOT by Robert B. Parker
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Spenser takes on a 40-person-strong mob in the Western town of Potshot. Parker has been very smart about reinvigorating the Spenser series at key moments. This is a must-read if you like Spenser.
A RANDOM WALK DOWN WALL STREET by Burton Malkiel
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Outstanding because it combines pragmatic insight with the best avaialble peer-reviewed academic knowledge about investing.
Wow, what a disturbing book ... feels so very true almost up until the last ten pages, when it takes a sudden u-turn into Stalinist fantasy. I admire MacLeod for recognizing that *anyone* can win the Great Game, and that American or British victory is by no means preordained, but at some point we need to start doing some sanity-checking about whether a) China is likely to become the global leader with its repressive, untransparent political system and b) whether we actually want that to happen.

There's a tremendous Scottish Renaissance in science fiction and fantasy these days, with MacLeod, Charles Stross, J. K. Rowling among the brightest lights. It's a pity that it seems such a politically parochial Renaissance, driven by fear of American hegemony rather than by a expansive view of a better world.