Book Bits: Book Reviews

● By Daniel Susskind
Review via The New York Times

If humans’ fears that technology would replace them have been unfounded in the past, this time is different. So argues Daniel Susskind, a fellow in economics at Oxford, in his new book, “A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond.” Susskind declares that machines are getting so smart that they’ll soon replace humans at a growing list of jobs, potentially including doctors, bricklayers and insurance adjusters, thus ending what he calls the “Age of Labor.” Without some sort of intervention, he says, the inequality inherent in today’s economy will metastasize into an even greater divide between the haves and have-nots.

 

 

● By John F. Weeks
Summary via publisher (Polity)

‘Governments should spend no more than their tax income.’ Most people in Europe and North America accept this statement as simple common sense. It resonates with the deeply engrained economic metaphors that dominate public discourse, from ‘living within your means’ to ‘balancing the budget’ – all necessary, or so conventional wisdom holds, to avoid the dangers of debt, taxation and financial ruin. This book shows how these homely metaphors constitute the ‘debt delusion’: a set of plausible-sounding yet false ideas that have been used to justify damaging austerity policies. John Weeks debunks these myths, explaining the true story behind public spending, taxation, and debt, and their real function in the management of our economies.


 

● By Christopher Knowlton
Review via The Wall Street Journal

It is difficult to go wrong when writing of questionable behavior and wretched excess in Florida, a fact that is borne out yet again in Christopher Knowlton’s colorful “Bubble in the Sun,” a wide-ranging treatment of the ill-fated South Florida land boom of the 1920s. Mr. Knowlton, a former staff writer and London bureau chief for Fortune magazine, provides a close look into the exploits of a number of legendary players central to the meteoric rise and fall of the state’s fortunes in the first third of the 20th century.

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