Category Archives: Reviews and comments

Reviewing “Peak: Secrets from The New Science of Expertise”, by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool

It seems strange to call a book about self-improvement “Peak”. Perhaps the publishers balked at “Uphill Struggle”, though that would have been much more fitting for a tome in which Anders Ericsson – the psychologist behind Malcom Gladwell’s “10,000 hour rule” – and science writer Robert Pool channel the Calvinist spirit to insist that greatness is possible for everyone. So long, that is, as we work at it…

Read the rest on the THE website or download the PDF.

This review appeared in Times Higher Education, 9-15 June 2016

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments, Uncategorized

The promise and paradise of austerity

Out online, my review of Martijn Konings’ The emotional logic of capitalism (Stanford University Press, 2015). Here’s an extract:

‘Certain questions dog progressive thought: why, in view of the manifest failures of financial capitalism, is its hold on our society stronger than ever? Why, despite the empirical evidence of foreclosures, vacant building lots and food banks are people unable to see the catastrophic consequences of current economic arrangements? How has neoliberalism emerged from calamity ever stronger (Mirowski, 2013)? Why, as Crouch (2011) puts it, will neoliberalism simply not die? With this slim book Martijn Konings, a scholar of political economy at the University of Sydney, sketches out an answer: that progressive understandings of capitalism have neglected its emotional logics – its therapeutic, traumatic-redemptive, even theological qualities – and failed to recognise our emotional investment in money, our belief in the social role of credit as an ordering, regulatory mechanism, and our need for the redemptive promise of austere, well-disciplined economy… ‘

You can read the rest here

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments, Uncategorized

Review: The Dark Side of Management

Just a quick update: my short review of Gerard Hanlon’s ‘The Dark Side of Management: A Secret History of Management Theory’ newly published in Times Higher Education. Hanlon wants us to rethink the old Frederick Taylor bad/Elton Mayo good divide. Taylor, of course, invented scientific management and worked to increase the efficiency of production by cheapening labour as much as possible, taking the need for skill or judgement from the workers and passing it to a new class of managers. Mayo, on the other hand, is often seen as being on the workers’ side, his interviews and coaching designed to help people identify with their job and become happier in it. For Hanlon, scientific management and the Mayo’s new human relations movement are just two sides of the same coin: it’s all about making more money for capital. The historical material in Hanlon’s book is interesting enough (though Harry Braverman’s seminal 1974 account of Taylorism as the bedrock of the labour process is strangely absent).  But I think there are some more compelling stories about exploitation in the twenty-first century begging to be told. Well, here’s the review if you’re interested.

21 February: Article scan available here OHanlon THE 030115.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments, Uncategorized

In the Literary Review

Lit Rev cover March 150001I was delighted to review Paul Vigna and Michael Casey’ entertaining biography of bitcoin (other brands of cyber currency are of course available) Cryptocurrency: How Bitcoin and Digital Money are Challenging the Global Economic Order, for the March issue of the Literary Review. And, as you can see, the good people at the magazine even put my name on the cover. You can read the review here: Literary Review March 2015

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments

Reviewing Will Hutton’s How Good We Can Be

The 1995 publication of The State We’re In, Will Hutton’s polemic against dismal Tory rule and the neoliberal destruction of Britain, was a pivotal moment in British politics. The book gave an intellectual focus to the Blair movement and became part of the swelling of support that ushered in New Labour. It looked forward to a new future things, and in 1997, when we sat up late to see Blair sweep to power, we all agreed with the tartan trouser-wearing not-then-Professor Brian Cox, who sang that things could only get better. Only they haven’t. Now Hutton is pillar of the left-wing establishment and principal of an Oxford college. So it was with some trepidation that I came to review his new book, How Good We Can Be, a twenty year reprisal of his vision for Britain and a condemnation, not just of Tory rule, but of New Labour too. Hutton is still angry – angrier than ever – and his critique spot on. I’m just not sure about his vision for the future. You can read my review here or download it here PDF: Will Hutton’s How Good We Can Be

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments

German media coverage

The German translation of my book – ‘Rechnet Sich Das?’ – appeared on 25 August, so I’m keeping a note of media coverage, as and when I hear about it.

Radio station WDR5 produced a short online review and a few minutes of broadcast discussion, which you can find here.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments

Deutscher Wirtschaftsbuchpreis 2014: Die Shortlist

The title says it all! I’ve been shortlisted for the Deutscher Wirtschaftsbuchpreis, an award for non-fiction books on topics related to business, economics and markets, and sponsored by Handelsblatt, the German business daily, and Goldman Sachs. It’s a big deal, presided over by a jury of ten luminaries from the German business world. I’m on the list of ten finalists with, inter alia, Michael Lewis, for Flash Boys, and Thomas Piketty… That’s company!

Here’s the full listing and press release: Wirtschaftsbuchpreis press release

Postscript: Michael Lewis won the prize, and here he is discussing he book at the evening presentation which took place at the Frankfurt Book Fair on 9 October. Take a look at the books on the table, and I’m second from the right.

„Die Märkte sollten immer versuchen, so fair wie möglich zu handeln, und die Technologie hat das meiner Meinung möglich gemacht. Das beizubehalten ist ein sehr nobles Ziel.“ Quelle: Markus Kirchgessner für Handelsblatt

Photo from the Handelsblatt website, http://www.handelsblatt.com/panorama/kultur-literatur/wirtschaftsbuchpreis/zehn-klassiker-von-morgen-wirtschaftsbuchpreis-2014-so-wurde-der-sieger-gefeiert/10819918.html?slp=false&p=10&a=false#image

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments

At the Aye Write festival, and catching up on Scotsman coverage

On Sunday afternoon (6 April) I discovered two great Glasgow institutions: the Mitchell Library – one of Europe’s great public libraries and Glasgow’s finest buildings – and the Aye Write literary festival. Aye Write is in its third year, I believe, and is welcoming the likes of Joanne Harris, Julia Donaldson, Al Murray and Frankie Doyle. I had a good time, and I hope those who came did too. My session was chaired by the cheery and thoughtful David Robinson, books editor of the Scotsman; in February David wrote a very supportive review of my book for Scotland on Sunday, which  I missed first time round. He describes it as ‘an elegant intellectual history’ and a ‘fascinating book on so many levels’. You can read his review here.

(I was greatly cheered by this discovery, because the Scotsman’s other review, by Lucy Tobin, didn’t treat me so kindly!)

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Reviews and comments

Reviewed by Jon Turney

Science writer Jon Turney (@jonWturney) reviews I Spend Therefore I Am on his blog here. Its not at all unfriendly, though he would like to see a few more nods to the great political economists of the left. I kept them out, not to make the book more palatable, but to avoid opening up battle on too many fronts at the same time; my energies are focused on the ways economics turns us into something novel, the networked, cyborg homo oeconomics.  And he’s right, I don’t know what the way out of all this is – my sense is that we first of all have to find a voice, and that’s where the few mechanisms I do point to might help. But overall, thank you Jon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments

MacLeans Magazine Canada

While I was in Toronto, I had a fascinating chat with Brian Bethune, books editor of MacLeans Magazine. We chatted about economics, markets, medieval marriage rules for clerics – Brian’s topic, not mine – and lots of other things. Well, Brian’s piece is out in print and online, and you can read it here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Reviews and comments