Book Bits: 20 August 2022

Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China
Michael Beckley and Hal Brands
Excerpt via Foreign Policy
The greatest geopolitical catastrophes occur at the intersection of ambition and desperation. Xi Jinping’s China will soon be driven by plenty of both.
In our new book, Danger Zone: The Coming Conflict with China, which this article is adapted from, we explain the cause of that desperation: a slowing economy and a creeping sense of encirclement and decline. But first, we need to lay out the grandness of those ambitions—what Xi’s China is trying to achieve. It is difficult to grasp just how hard China’s fall will be without understanding the heights to which Beijing aims to climb. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is undertaking an epic project to rewrite the rules of global order in Asia and far beyond. China doesn’t want to be a superpower—one pole of many in the international system. It wants to be the superpower—the geopolitical sun around which the system revolves.

Longpath: Becoming the Great Ancestors Our Future Needs – An Antidote for Short-Termism
Ari Wallach
Review via Publishers Weekly
Wallach, founder of the think tank Longpath Labs, debuts with an urgent if underwhelming consideration of how actions taken today can improve the future. Lamenting the contemporary emphasis on quick profits and immediate gratification, the author suggests readers adopt a “Longpath” philosophy: “a framework for a conscious social evolution, one that is about knowing ourselves and seeing ourselves within a much bigger narrative.” Citing climate change, recent global recessions, and rising mistrust of institutions, Wallach contends that humanity is currently in a period of flux akin to the agricultural revolution or the Enlightenment, and warns that humans must rise to meet the occasion or risk suffering a Roman Empire–esque societal decline.

Irrationally Rational: Ten Nobel Laureates Script the Story of Behavioural Economics
Viswanathan Raghunathan
Summary via Amazon
In recent times, behavioral economics has become a household term. Irrationally Rational, written by V. Raghunathan, explores and explains behavioral economics in an accessible manner to the general readership. It captures the key works of the Nobel prize-winners who have contributed significantly to the evolution of behavioral economics, and will bring readers up to speed on how behavioral economics has come to eclipse, if not supplant neoclassical economics over the decades. In telling the story of the evolution of ‘human irrationality’, the book will also help readers understand where human psychology stands on the rationality-irrationality continuum.

Better Prosperity: On Justice and Affluence in America
Steve Soderlind
Summary via publisher (Archway Publishing)
This volume tracks the American experiment with special attention to justice and prosperity. Its wide-ranging survey begins with historical notes and culminates with reflections on twenty-first century chaos and confusion. Lies, fabrications, and simplistic thinking now complicate and confuse the nation—to the despair of millions. In that light, this essay imagines frontiers of justice, based on truth and intelligence, that might kindle a workable consensus and a brighter era of affluence. Referencing germane insights from economics, sociology, psychology, and social choice, the issue is whether justice and prosperity might come together in a virtuous cycle. The author is cautiously hopeful, noting barriers and obstructions that are likely to threaten any such blossoming.

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