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!)


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.

In the Sundays! (Sport and Times)

Coverage in the Sundays – a game of two halves. First of all, a pretty hostile review from Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor and now JP Morgan Chief Strategist, in the Sunday Times. Here’s a pdf of the review: I Spend Therefore I Am, Sunday Times, 16th Feb. Flanders’ main complaint is that I take too broad a view of economics – well, that’s made clear throughout the book. ‘The true cost of calculatively rational, profit seeking, technical valuation methods derived from economic’s wouldn’t have made such a good title. She claims that we need instrumental rationality in, for example, the health service – granted, we do, but we need other forms of value, democratically discussed, as well. And she argues that we have choice. We do indeed, but what’s of interest is how these choices are made: we aren’t just ‘brains in jars’, as they say in science studies.

On the better side, four stars in the Sunday Sport. The review concludes, ‘Loads of economists are queueing up to slag this book off, which alone makes it an economically sound buy’. Nuff said. The review here:

28-29 SFTW.indd

I Spend Therefore I Am in the Times and the Independent

More mentions of my book in the Saturday papers (2 February 2014). A short but upbeat review in The Times, says ‘simple economics becomes complex moral and political philosophy’, and called me a ‘management guru’. Well, maybe one day. Meanwhile, in the Independent, the economist Vicky Pryce takes me to task, although she does conclude that it is a ‘readable and entertaining’ book, which is also fine by me! You can find the Independent review here.

First reviews in print…

The first reviews of I Spend Therefore I Am have hit the news stands! They’re both written by philosophers, and I was pretty pleased with them, although they don’t give me an easy ride!  The conservative thinker Roger Scruton writes at length in Prospect magazine, which you can find here or on this pdf (Prospect Feb 2014 Scruton), and academic philosopher Edward Skidelski, author of How Much is Enough, reviews my book in the Guardian, here.