Book Bits | 14 May 2016

Who Rules the World?
By Noam Chomsky
Summary via publisher (Metropolitan/Macmillan)
In an incisive, thorough analysis of the current international situation, Noam Chomsky argues that the United States, through its military-first policies and its unstinting devotion to maintaining a world-spanning empire, is both risking catastrophe and wrecking the global commons. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the expanding drone assassination program to the threat of nuclear warfare, as well as the flashpoints of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine, he offers unexpected and nuanced insights into the workings of imperial power on our increasingly chaotic planet.

Makers and Takers: The Rise of Finance and the Fall of American Business
By Rana Foroohar
Review via Fortune
Banks were the chief villains of the financial crisis—at least, so says Rana Foroohar in her new book, which chronicles how the “financialization” of the economy led almost everyone, including business schools and corporations, to assume we should all act like bankers. Through extensive reporting, the Time editor (Fortune is a sister publication) paints a grim picture. She argues that modern corporations care only about pleasing shareholders and that executives merely take from the middle class and make few, if any, advancements in the way of business innovation.

Herbert Hoover in the White House: The Ordeal of the Presidency
By Charles Rappleye
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
The Hoover presented here will come as a surprise to both his longtime defenders and his many critics. In public Hoover was shy and retiring, but in private he is revealed as a man of passion and sometimes of fury, a man who intrigued against his enemies while fulminating over plots against him. Rappleye describes him as more sophisticated and more active in economic policy than is often acknowledged. We see Hoover watching a sunny (and he thought ignorant) FDR on the horizon. FDR did not “cure” the depression, but he experimented with steps that relieved it. Most importantly he broke the mood of doom almost immediately. The Hoover we see here—bright, well meaning, energetic—lacked the single critical element to succeed as president. He had a first-class mind and a second-class temperament.

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization
By Parag Khanna
Review via The Economist
Parag Khanna wants to show how connected the world really is. Large chunks of his new book, “Connectography” (an apparent portmanteau of “connective cartography”), describe the infrastructure that knits the world together: container ships twice the length of an aircraft-carrier, motorways traversing entire continents. By some estimates, he says, people will “build more infrastructures in the next 40 years alone than it has in the past 4,000”. Theirs is a “non-state” world, he argues. European companies do research in America, manufacturing in China and back-office work in the Middle East. Factor all this in and as much as 40% of American exports contain imports. Products should carry the label “made everywhere”, he says.

Panic at the Pump: The Energy Crisis and the Transformation of American Politics in the 1970s
By Meg Jacobs
Summary via publisher (Hill & Wang/Macmillan)
In Panic at the Pump, Meg Jacobs shows how a succession of crises beginning with the 1973 Arab oil embargo prompted American politicians to seek energy independence, and how their failure to do so shaped the world we live in. When the crisis hit, the Democratic Party was divided, with older New Deal liberals who prized access to affordable energy squaring off against young environmentalists who pushed for conservation. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans challenged both kinds of governmental activism and argued that there would be no energy crisis if the government got out of the way and let the market work. The result was a stalemate in Washington and panic across the country: miles-long gas lines, Big Oil conspiracy theories, even violent truckers’ strikes.

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World
By Don Tapscott and Alex Tapscott
Excerpt via Reuters
What if there were an Internet of Value emerging?
Enter the blockchain — a vast, global distributed ledger or database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, where not just information but anything of value — money, titles, deeds, music, art, scientific discoveries, intellectual property, and even votes — can be moved, stored and managed securely and privately — and where trust is established, not by powerful intermediaries like banks, governments and technology companies, but rather through mass collaboration and clever code.
The blockchain is the first native digital medium for value just as the Internet was the first native digital medium for information. We are convinced that this new platform will help us reshape business and transform the old order of human affairs for the better.

This Brave New World: India, China and the United States
By Anja Manuel
Summary via publisher (Simon & Schuster)
In the next decade and a half, China and India will become two of the world’s indispensable powers—whether they rise peacefully or not. During that time, Asia will surpass the combined strength of North America and Europe in economic might, population size, and military spending. Both India and China will have vetoes over many international decisions, from climate change to global trade, human rights, and business standards. From her front row view of this colossal shift, first at the State Department and now as an advisor to American business leaders, Anja Manuel escorts the reader on an intimate tour of the corridors of power in Delhi and Beijing. – See more at:

Master Your Cash Flow: The Key To Grow And Retain Wealth
By Albert J. Zdenek Jr.
Summary via Amazon
Achieving Financial Independence to create the life you want now and in the future, you have to become the master of your cash flow. By understanding the big picture of your financial situation, you will be able to make better financial choices―no matter how small. Trusted CPA and financial specialist Al
Zdenek shares how you can build your wealth and reach your financial goals. Master Your Cash Flow gives straightforward and valuable information you can use in everyday financial decisions to help make the 100 percent correct financial choice for you.

The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism
By Arun Sundararajan
Summary via publisher (MIT Press)
Sharing isn’t new. Giving someone a ride, having a guest in your spare room, running errands for someone, participating in a supper club—these are not revolutionary concepts. What is new, in the “sharing economy,” is that you are not helping a friend for free; you are providing these services to a stranger for money. In this book, Arun Sundararajan, an expert on the sharing economy, explains the transition to what he describes as “crowd-based capitalism”—a new way of organizing economic activity that may supplant the traditional corporate-centered model. As peer-to-peer commercial exchange blurs the lines between the personal and the professional, how will the economy, government regulation, what it means to have a job, and our social fabric be affected?