in which the author discusses five books he’d read, if time permitted.
1. The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die, by Niall Ferguson
The author of this book dissed John Maynard Keynes for being gay awhile back, but I can’t help being interested in it anyway: I’m attracted to narratives about how things are getting worse. Maybe, instead of supporting homophobia and buying his book, I can borrow a copy from a friendly homophobic economist in my neighborhood. There are probably one or two discussing the breast-shaped Laffer curve in the dog park right now.
2. 1913: In Search of the World Before the Great War, by Charles Emmerson
Original title: 1913: 66 Years Before the Year Punk Broke.
3. The Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari, by Paul Theroux
I’m never going to go on a safari. I’m no Ernest Hemingway; it seems too humid and buggy; I don’t want anyone calling me “sahib” or any version of “sahib”; I’m scared of large mammals. For this reason, I need books.
4. Lexicon, by Max Barry
A novel about kids from Arlington taught to be master persuaders, like the guy who convinced me to get a bigger iMac in 2005 at the Clarendon Apple Store.
5. Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, by Joseph S. Nye
In this life, you get older, become interested in new things, and then must face the fact: You are your father.