Monday, January 3, 2011

My Reading List From 2010.

This is SilverOz. I have decided in a less economically related post to give a very brief synopsis of the books I have read this year in case anyone has similar interests. The title of each book will be a link to the amazon page.

Crucible of War by Fred Anderson. This book is a fantastic read about the French and Indian War (aka The Seven Years' War) and should be required reading for anyone interested in the founding of our country and/or the American Revolution for without the French and Indian War, our revolution would not likely have happened (at least at the time it did). Without giving too much away, an interesting anecdote from the book is that George Washington helped to start/escalate the war when he lead a massacre of French forces at Jumonville's Glen (while leading British troops and their Indian allies), which of course eventually leads to Washington commanding the American troops in the Revolution and becoming our first president. Overall this book is a fantastic read on a subject that is often overlooked in American history.

The Glorious Cause by Robert Middlekauff. The Glorious Cause is a very detailed and well written account of the American Revolution and the general time period of 1763-1789. The time period overlaps that from the Crucible of War by about three years and is again helpful in understanding the root causes of our Revolution from the British Empire and also goes into detail about what was happening in England (and Parliament) during the period. Another excellent read and well worth the time for anyone interested in the American Revolution (although I would absolutely recommend reading Crucible of War first).

The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. Ferguson weaves a very quick, but interesting read on the financial history of the world (well as much as one can put in about 350 pages). The book does a good job of providing a surface skimming history of the rise of financing, debt, and insurance and is able to tie them together to show the risks inherent to our financial system today.

American Economic Policy in the 1980's By Martin Feldstein et al (an NBER publication). I have actually done a more detailed review of this wonderful read here. Simply a wonderful economic history of the 1980's from the people who were intimately involved in it.

Rendezvous With Destiny by Craig Shirley. This book is an insider's tale of the Reagan campaign of 1980 and is an enthralling read (even if you are not a fan of Reagan). Shirley does a magnificent job of describing both the good and bad from the campaign and even sheds some light on what was happening on the Democratic side as well. The book's best feature in my opinion though, is that it doesn't place Reagan on a pedestal, but treats him (and the campaign) relatively fair throughout. This book is a great read for anyone interested in insider campaign politics or the 1980 election in general.

Politics and Economic in the Eighties edited by Alberto Alesina and Geoffrey Carliner (an NBER publication). This book is a project report by the NBER that examines research on the political economy by political scientists. The book covers topics that include monetary policy, deficits, tax policy, and the savings and loan scandal among others. The book is definitely more wonkish and is substantially more based on the research of political scientists than economics, but it is an interesting read nonetheless (if political science or the eighties are your interests).

Transforming America by Robert Collins. As you can see by now, I was on an eighties kick with my reading this year (as a child of the eighties I hear that can happen). This book by Collins is an examination of the politics and culture of the Reagan years and while Collins is definitely an admirer of Reagan, he does an excellent job of showing both sides of a given issue and includes criticism of many of the policies and actions of the time.

Revolution 1989 by Victor Sebestyen. This was the last book I read this year and was quite honestly the most captivating, as I could hardly put the book down. The book is about the fall of the Soviet Empire and specifically the Warsaw pact countries (ie Eastern Europe) that culminated in 1989. Sebestyen is a marvelous writer who provides amazing insight into what was happening during this period in the Soviet Empire and the people and events that brought about the collapse of the Soviet Bloc. This is a book I would highly recommend to just about anyone regardless of interests.