Book Bits | 7 December 2019

Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance
By Laurence B. Siegel
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
Why do so many people fear the future? Is their concern justified, or can we look forward to greater wealth and continued improvement in the way we live? Our world seems to be experiencing stagnant economic growth, climatic deterioration, dwindling natural resources, and an unsustainable level of population growth. The world is doomed, they argue, and there are just too many problems to overcome. But is this really the case? In Fewer, Richer, Greener, author Laurence B. Siegel reveals that the world has improved—and will continue to improve—in almost every dimension imaginable. This practical yet lighthearted book makes a convincing case for having gratitude for today’s world and optimism about the bountiful world of tomorrow.

Finance and Security: Global Vulnerabilities, Threats and Responses
By Martin S. Navias
Summary via publisher (Hurst)
The global financial sector is increasingly vulnerable to penetration by criminal money launderers, financiers of terrorism, and proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, it offers instruments that can be usefully employed to pursue foreign and security policy objectives. It is thus hardly surprising that finance has emerged as an arena of intense competition, if not conflict, between those seeking to exploit or attack this vital element of state power and those tasked with defending its integrity or harnessing it for legal purposes. Navias assesses the key threats to financial systems and shows how the public and private sectors are co-operating to contain them.

Noise: Living and Leading When Nobody Can Focus
By Joseph McCormack
Summary via publisher (Wiley)
In the current digital age, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to stay focused. Smartphones, tablets, smart watches, and other devices constantly vie for our attention. In both business and life, we are constantly bombarded with tweets, likes, mentions, and a constant stream of information. The inability to pay attention impacts learning, parenting, prioritizing, and leading. Not surprisingly, attention spans have gotten shorter. Already being pulled in a dozen directions every minute, managers and business leaders often struggle to address important issues and focus on everything that needs attention.

Laid Waste!: The Culture of Exploitation in Early America
By John Lauritz Larson
Summary via publisher (University of Pennyslvania Press)
After humble beginnings as faltering British colonies, the United States acquired astonishing wealth and power as the result of what we now refer to as modernization. Originating in England and Western Europe, transplanted to the Americas, then copied around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, this process locked together science and technology, political democracy, economic freedom, and competitive capitalism. This has produced for some populations unimagined wealth and material comfort, yet it has also now brought the global environment to a tipping point beyond which life as we know it may not be sustainable. How did we come to endanger the very future of life on earth in our heedless pursuit of wealth and happiness? In Laid Waste!, John Lauritz Larson answers that question with a 350-year review of the roots of an American “culture of exploitation” that has left us free, rich, and without an honest sense of how this crisis came to be.

The Responsible Globalist: What Citizens of the World Can Learn from Nationalism
By Hassan Damluji
Summary via publisher (Penguin RandomHouse)
An incisive, optimistic manifesto for a more inclusive globalism
Today, globalism has a bad reputation. ‘Citizens of the world’ are depicted as recklessly uninterested in how international economic networks can affect local communities. Meanwhile, nationalists are often derided as racists and bigots. But what if the two were not so far apart? What could globalists learn from the powerful sense of belonging that nationalism has created? Faced with the injustices of the world’s economic and political system, what should a responsible globalist do?

On Trade Justice: A Philosophical Plea for a New Global Deal
By Mathias Risse and Gabriel Wollner
Summary via publisher (Oxford University Press)
Trade has made the world. Still, trade remains an elusive and profoundly difficult area for philosophical thought. This novel account of trade justice makes ideas about exploitation central, giving pride of place to philosophical ideas about global justice but also contributing to moral disputes about practical questions. On Trade Justice is a philosophical plea for a new global deal, in continuation of, but also at appropriate distance to, post-war efforts to design a fair global-governance system in the spirit of the American New Deal of the 1930s.

A Leader’s Guide to Cybersecurity: Why Boards Need to Lead–and How to Do It
By Thomas J. Parenty and Jack J. Domet
Summary via publisher (Harvard Business Publishing)
Cybersecurity threats are on the rise. As a leader, you need to be prepared to keep your organization safe. Companies are investing an unprecedented amount of money to keep their data and assets safe, yet cyberattacks are on the rise–and the problem is worsening. No amount of technology, resources, or policies will reverse this trend. Only sound governance, originating with the board, can turn the tide. Protection against cyberattacks can’t be treated as a problem solely belonging to an IT or cybersecurity department. It needs to cast a wide and impenetrable net that covers everything an organization does–from its business operations, models, and strategies to its products and intellectual property. And boards are in the best position to oversee the needed changes to strategy and hold their companies accountable.

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