Book Review: The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson

Niall Ferguson’s The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, is one of the best economic histories I have read.  It seeks to be a global history of money and does a good job of it.  It is somewhat tilted towards Europe and Western countries but only because that is where the majority of financial innovation has come from, especially in the last 300-400 years.last 400 years. What I found especially interesting were his explanations of the way sophisticated financial instruments actually work.  It often seems as though investment and investing have a language specifically designed to confuse and confound the layman.  Dr. Ferguson’s explanations of derivatives and other financial instruments were understandable … More after the Jump…

Who Are We Fighting?€“ Public & Military Perception Of Islam, Radical Islam, and The War On Terrorism

This is a guest post Since the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attacked by radical Islamic terrorists in 2001, a sense of enmity, fear, and distrust has grown between the West and the Islamic world. While the stated official policy of the United States has always been that the nation is fighting specific groups of militants and terrorists rather than Islam itself, all too often, civilians as well as members of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies show that they do not truly make any distinction. Spokesmen from military and public policy research centers, point out that all too often, ordinary Americans assume that all Muslims in … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War by Alison Morton

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I was contacted by Ms. Morton about reading and reviewing her book: Military or civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War and jumped at the opportunity as the subject matter of the book, German Woman serving with the Wehrmacht is one that has been virtually ignored in English scholarship as she rightly points out in her introduction and demonstrates by including the text of an email she received from the director of the Imperial War Museum in which he demonstrates total ignorance about any female auxiliaries used … More after the Jump…

The Tyranny of the Good Intentioned

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ― C.S. Lewis

 

I could not say it any better myself.  Lord, deliver us from those that think they know better than we do.

Book Review: Julius Caesar: Lessons in Leadership from the Great Conqueror by Bill Yenne

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the publisher. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] I am someone who loves the ancients and loves reading the their stories. That being said, I am much more likely to read Caesar’s Commentaries or Plutarch’s Life of Caesar than a modern day biography derived from those sources. In fact, I have read all those ancient works, most in both English and the original Latin. This book was a pleasure to read anyway.   Bill Yenne has put together a comprehensive account of Caesar’s life that someone unfamiliar with Caesar’s exploits … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Race & Economics: How Much Can be Blamed on Discrimination? by Walter E. Williams

I was first motivated to buy this book by the blizzard of negative articles and news pieces about it when it was first published. I also realize that I am opening myself to charges that I am not competent to comment or even post a review of this book because I am white, as the picture on the About Me page clearly shows. I am going to review it anyway because I think the book was worth reading and worth talking about even if someone disagrees with its conclusions. Williams makes several highly controversial points in this book about policies that have kept black people and other minorities from achieving … More after the Jump…

Europe and Modern War

Saw an interesting piece awhile ago on the South African Business Day website called: GIDEON RACHMAN: Threat of war seems unreal in an age of peace. The essential point is that although war seems to have been eradicated in Europe, don’t count it out if the Euro crisis gets as bad as it possibly can. I think it is naive in the extreme to think that because there has not been a major war in Europe for the past 65+ years that one cannot happen.   We should keep in mind that it was 49 years between the Congress of Vienna ending the Napoleonic Wars and the Prusso-Danish war of … More after the Jump…

The Decline and Fall of the United States?

There has been much talk and discussion both in editorials and on various internet forums about the pending decline of the supposed US “empire” or the USA itself. I was thinking about this on the way back from dropping my wife off at work this morning and the more I think about it, the more I think it could only possibly happen if America lets it happen. The USA is not comparable to the UK prior to their fall from Great Power status post WWII. The disparity between the size of the two nations both physical and in population is too great for their to really be a valid comparison. … More after the Jump…

Knowledge of history and democracy

US Declaration-of-Independence

Text of Declaration of Independence Saw an interesting article today: Back to School, Back to U.S. History Basics from George Nethercutt is probably one of the best arguments I have read for emphasizing historical literacy in schools that I have seen in a long time. I have posted before about the general lack of civics knowledge in America and it is worth saying again and again that civics and history knowledge is essential to the functioning of American democracy. The argument that if the citizens of a country lack knowledge about the historical roots of their government and nation then they will not long keep either is very true. Is … More after the Jump…

Book Review: The Penguin History of Europe by J.M. Roberts

I cannot remember why I bought The Penguin History of Europe by J.M. Roberts several years ago, no doubt it was as a resource for an undergrad paper I wrote although I cannot find it used as a cite in any of my papers. It is also possible that I bought it just because I though it looked interesting since my specialty is European history. This is not a bad book, but it is also not quite what the title makes it out to be. I think the best way I an categorize this book is that it presents an eclectic view of European history. It is very well written … More after the Jump…

BOOK REVIEW: Civilization: The West and the Rest by Niall Ferguson

I have read several of Niall Ferguson’s books and while I may not always agree with him hi writing style and analysis are always interesting and thought provoking.   Civilization: The West and the Rest is no different.   I have the UK edition of the book, I doubt it is significantly different from the US edition except for the cover, but cannot guarantee it. In this book Dr. Ferguson attempts to analyze and explain why the West, which he defines as European and countries with a European heritage, has prospered so much over the past 500 years and how the West managed to control so much of the globe. … More after the Jump…

The Peace of Augsburg and Modern Germany

The Peace of Augsburg is the settlement between the Holy Roman Emperor and all his princes and nobility that established that the religion of a locality in Imperial Germany will be the same as that of its ruler.   The only two religions allowed were what we today call Lutheranism and Roman Catholicism.   At the Peace every German state and principality had its religion determined. Many people may wonder what the 460 year old Religious Peace of Augsburg has to do with a modern European state.   I did too until recently when I started to think about it.   Let me lay out my train of thought.   … More after the Jump…

Schoolhouse Rock and Civic Knowledge

Ace of Spades put up an excellent post a few weeks ago about the lack of Civics knowledge in this country.http://ace.mu.nu/archives/318322.php#318322 The best part of the post are the links to the old Schoolhouse Rock videos that just about everyone older than 30 should remember. I fondly remember them from Saturday morning’s when I was kid. Anyway, check out the post and watch the videos too. Here is a great site to go and test your civics knowledge: The BBHQ Great American Civics Quiz. There are 54 questions on the test. I got a 46, I guess I need to study some more.   Post your score in the comments.

The Causes and Reasons for the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848

The Mexican-American war of 1846-1848 was not inevitable but both sides placed themselves on a collision course that seemingly made it so.   A combination of Mexican unwillingness to recognize Texas independence and the desire of Texans for statehood with American desire for westward expansion set the stage for the first offensive war in the short History of the United States.   Tensions between Mexico and the United States had been building for decades, ever since the Mexican government invited Anglo settlers into Texas in the 1820’s.   The war with Mexico was the result of long-standing Anglo grievances that were mostly of the Mexican government’s own making.   Perhaps … More after the Jump…