BOOKS

Double Entry: How the Merchants of Venice Created Modern Finance

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A disappointment.  After an odd nine-page preface that opens with a Robert F. Kennedy 1968 speech about the notion of GDP, there are 121 herky-jerky pages on how an Italian monk and Venetian merchants used Arabic numerals and Greek math to construct the rudiments of modern accounting.  One hundred and twenty-two pages follow on how accounting has contributed to the decline of the planet and the growth of rapacious capitalism, while hiding the fact that the true cost of a Big Mac is $200.  No kidding.  I’ll look for a better volume on the same topic and report later.

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What Karl's reading

After three years preparing The Triumph of William McKinley by reading very little but books, letters, articles and newspapers from the Gilded Age, I’m trying to get back into my regular routine, which I’ll chronicle here with an occasional review of what I’ve read.

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For most of the 20th century’s first half and beyond, Winston Churchill was a prominent figure on the world stage, reaching the pinnacle in his decisive role in confronting and defeating the Nazi menace.
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Kim Strassel writes a heck of a great column – “Potomac Watch” – every Friday in the Wall Street Journal on whose editorial board she sits. Now this master of the short essay has written her first book and it’s a dandy. THE INTIMIDATION GAME is a brilliant exposé of how the Left is using the vast regulatory and prosecutorial powers of government to attack the First Amendment free speech rights of conservatives in order to silence and marginalize them. Rather than achieving political power at the ballot box, the Left is trying to forever silence the Right by intimidation, regulation, and if need be, jail.
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A former Bush White House colleague, Yuval Levin, has written an important book for conservatives. His provocative thesis is that conservatives and liberals alike are wedded to a philosophical nostalgia that is debilitating for their respective movements and for the country.
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Simon Winchester has written some smashingly good books, among them THE PROFESSOR AND THE MADMAN, THE MAP THAT CHANGED THE WORLD, A CRACK AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD and KRAKATOA. Now this British expatriate has written something of a love letter to the country that made him an American by recently granted him citizenship. THE MEN WHO UNITED THE STATES examines the (mainly) men who tied our nation together.

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