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Monday, May 30, 2011

Three Sources reviews "I Am John Galt"

From John Kranz at the Three Sources blog, this review of I Am John Galt:

Five stars. A masterpiece.

I did not want ThreeSourcers hanging on with bated breath to see if I liked Don Luskin and Andrew Greta's I Am John Galt. It is one of the most entertaining books I have read in some time.
I suggested in my pre-review, that it was an informative and miraculously satisfying overview of Rand's philosophy. I consider the book in total to be like an engineering text that reifies abstract physical phenomena by application. Seeing Rand's ideas in the book's subtitle of "Today's Heroic Innovators Building the World and the Villainous Parasites Destroying It" bring the ideas to life.
John Krantz 
A second but not secondary benefit is this book's historical record of factors which caused and exacerbated the financial meltdown of 2008. The roles of Wesley Mouch/Barney Frank, Angelo Mozilla/James Taggart, and Alan Greenspan//Robert Stadler receive careful study, as does the contrary example of BB&T's John Allison as John Galt. The sum of these chapters is a comprehensive, factual, rational explanation of the crisis and how it could have been lessened or averted.

Brother jg was good enough to give me props for fulfilling my end of a bargain and reading "Making Peace with the Planet" by Barry Commoner. Trust me that was a walk in the park compared to my first paying $3.50 and then watching Inside Job at the request of another Facebook friend.

Inside Job gives us Matt Damon's view of the crisis -- really, isn't that what we have all been waiting for? At the risk of some spoilers, the basic problems were:
  • Greedy Wall Street Guys Made too much money;
  • Big bonuses were paid out;
  • Something or other about deregulation. It is not important enough to describe, but understand it is real bad;
  • Wall Street guys snorted coke and saw hookers, missing the moral heights attained by Damon's industry;
  • George Bush was a really bad guy. And dumb, and evil.
  • Wall Street guys made too much money.
"I am John Galt" provides a different version of the story in the context of Randian philosophy (I have to laugh that the authors use the work Randian non-pejoratively).
My reading oscillates between dry factual (okay, dismal) economics and history and boisterous, partisan polemics. IAJG delivers an excellent mix of pointed commentary, factual information, and some well deserved whacks at people who behaved very badly. I suggested I might shave a fractional star for Luskin's chapter on Paul Krugman/Ellsworth Toohey because he was "too close" to the topic. I'll not. Ms. Rand would not pull punches on a second-hander like Krugman and I was wrong to think -- even for a minute -- that Luskin should.
NOTES ON THE REVIEWER'S EDITION: I pre-ordered before the Kindle® version was announced, so I have an honest-to-goodness hardcover copy available for loan to any Colorado ThreeSourcer. I finally met commenter "nanobrewer" who borrowed "Lochner Revisited."
Here is the pre-review referenced above:
Drop Everything and Buy This Book

John Krantz
Last time I recommended a book before completing it, it did not end well. Yet, I have a lot more confidence here.

I saw Don Luskin on Kudlow and decided to put down some things I was reading and dive into I Am John Galt which Luskin co-authored with Andrew Greta.

The Introduction is a comprehensive and succinct view of Rand's philosophy. I make the daring prediction that it will generally please every ThreeSourcer. They do not cover a prodigious and productive career in 20 pages, but it is an awesome view from 20,000 feet.

It is followed by nine chapters, each about a modern historical figure, paired with the fictional Rand character he represents. Steve Jobs as Howard Roark, Paul Krugman as Ellsworth Toohey...

When I write the real Review Corner I will suggest that Luskin is perhaps too close to Krugman and should have allowed his co-author to pen that one, but that will shave off a small fraction of a star at worst. I post this early so that you can all drop what you are doing and buy this book.

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