04 Feb 2010
Book Review Lite: Sonic Boom, by Gregg Easterbrook
Sonic Boom is a fast read on the fast pace of economic and social change the world is facing. Easterbrook sees increasing prosperity at the cost of people feeling more nervous about their lives. He posits that improved communications and business relationships, both the result of democratic liberalization, have led to improved (and improved access to) education and technology. Real-world examples of the fast pace of change include the versatility of venture capital firms in the USA to sniff out winning ideas, and hi-end airplane manufacturing in a place not known for such production - Brazil. He tackles the ever-asked question, "don't we want more manufacturing jobs?" (not necessarily) and also avoids the nationalistic pitfall capitalism advocates often fall into. Yet Easterbrook remains positive in his outlook, espousing both democratic and republican ideals in an even-keeled look at forces driving worldwide change.
Book Review Lite: Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoevsky
Dostoevsky takes us into the world of a poor student in St. Petersburg. However, the central problem isn't one of poverty, but the struggle of Raskolnikov, the protagonist, to avoid insanity brought on by his intellectual curiosity, visions of moral superiority, and, finally, double homicide of a pawn broker and her sister. The brilliance of Dostoevsky is describing in thoughts and actions the mindset of the genius protagonist. He buries us in the depth of emotion, logic, and stress that Raskolnikov feels as he runs from and then comes to grips with his guilt, and we become geniuses ourselves for the effort. Though Raskolnikov admits to the crime, he only finds peace once he acknowledges his feelings of guilt after he has started his sentence in Siberia.