Book Bits: 23 April 2022

Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad,
and How to Fix It

Steve Forbes, et al.
Summary via publisher (Encounter Books)
Inflation: What It Is, Why It’s Bad, and How to Fix It explains what’s behind the worst inflationary storm in more than forty years—one that is dominating the headlines and shaking Americans by their pocketbooks. The cost-of-living explosion since the COVID pandemic has raised alarms about a possible return of a 1970’s-style “Great Inflation.” Some observers even fear a descent into the kind of raging hyperinflation that has torn apart so many nations. Is this true? If so, how should we prepare for the future?

A Brief History of Equality
Thomas Piketty
Review via Financial Times
The tension between the pessimistic and optimistic Pikettys runs through A Brief History. It condenses the 3,000 pages of his previous books (Top Incomes in France in the 20th Century, Capital in the 21st Century and Capital and Ideology) into 250 pages, with a greater focus on the global political perspective of the last of these than on the long-run economic trends of the first two.
The sins of empire feature prominently, from the horror of the slave trade to the protection of the imperial centre’s markets and extraction of colonial resources. It is a unidimensional history: exploitation is the only reason for the rise of the west, and that other dimensions exist is not even mentioned.

Adam Smith Reconsidered: History, Liberty, and the Foundations of Modern Politics
Paul Sagar
Summary via publisher (Princeton U. Press)
Adam Smith has long been recognized as the father of modern economics. More recently, scholars have emphasized his standing as a moral philosopher—one who was prepared to critique markets as well as to praise them. But Smith’s contributions to political theory are still underappreciated and relatively neglected. In this bold, revisionary book, Paul Sagar argues that not only have the fundamentals of Smith’s political thought been widely misunderstood, but that once we understand them correctly, our estimations of Smith as economist and as moral philosopher must radically change.

Nazi Billionaires: The Dark History of Germany’s Wealthiest Dynasties
David de Jong
Review via Foreign Affairs
Many German businesspeople supported the rise of Hitler, exploited forced labor during World War II, thrived in a Cold War West Germany that needed their skills and wealth, and passed on that wealth to new generations that prosper in Germany today. These include the owners of firms such as BMW, Daimler (then Daimler-Benz), IG Farben, Siemens, and ThyssenKrupp (formerly Krupp). De Jong, a journalist who specializes in such topics, provides a readable overview of this trajectory. Importantly, he underlines the decisive facilitating role that business interests often play in bringing populist authoritarians to power. Yet he seems unconcerned with this. Instead, he frames the book as a sensational and original investigation that shows that the Germans have not fully reckoned with their past. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Previous editions of Book Bits:
Book Bits: 16 April 2022
Book Bits: 9 April 2022
Book Bits: 2 April 2022

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