Secret Societies and A Mystery Solved

The Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

A friend of mine has been extolling the virtues of Matthew Pearl for quite some time, she ia a true fan and was always encouraging me to read his books.  She just knew that I would enjoy them and she was right!

The Technologists is a thriller about the very first class at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) at a time when the idea of teaching science and technology was considered a danger to society.  A series of scientific disasters spreads throughout Boston, and a small group of students from the class of 1868 come together to uncover the source of the menace. They form their own Secret Society known as – you guessed it – The Technologists.  Included among the members of the Secret Society is Ellen Swallow, the very first female student at MIT who is hidden away from the public like a “dangerous animal.”   The fight to discover the cause of the disasters soon becomes a fight for the very life of MIT.

Matthew Pearl has made the seemingly uninteresting beginnings of one of the world’s premier educational institutions into a thriller worth reading.  His incorporation of MIT’s William Barton Rogers and other historical figures makes the science and technology aspect of the novel interesting rather than a drag, which I must admit I feared!  If you like historical fiction, this is a must read.  If you haven’t read Matthew Pearl, but like Caleb Carr and Stephanie Pintoff, pick up a copy of The Technologists soon.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book free from Random House. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Details:  Published by Random House (February 21, 2012), 496 pages, ISBN: 1400066573.

The story of economic genius?

The Booklover’s Rating:  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius by Sylvia Nasar is an impressive book.  Nasar tells the story of how great economic thinkers influenced the world and effected changes that impact each and every one of us today.  Her account of the world’s great economic thinkers begins with Henry Mayhew and Charles Dickens observing and publishing their accounts of poverty in Victorian England. She goes on to describe the work of Marx, Engels, Alfred Marshall, Beatrice Webb and Irving Fisher.  The book goes to great length about Keynes for those that are interested in his work.  Hayek and Milton Friedman (an economist of whom The Booklover is a great admirer) are also featured in Nasar’s book.

I was almost unaware of the work of Joseph Schumpeter and found that Nasar’s account of his work was extremely interesting and the anecdotes of his life which were included (as were included for all of the economists featured) brought the man to life.  Nasar has certainly made me much more curious about the work of Schumpeter.  Another economist of which only got a small mention (as compared to Keynes), but that I would like to read much more about in Nasar’s book is Ludwig von Mises.

Grand Pursuit is the story of the economists listed here and many more.  It is the story of their life’s work on finding ways to solve great economic crises, ways to finance wars, and most importantly ways to make society in general a better place.  You can watch a quick video summary of Grand Pursuit at The Daily Beast.

My copy was an advance reader’s edition (ARE) and did not include the epilogue.  I will be at the local bookstore with a cup of coffee this coming week at the release of Grand Pursuit reading the  epilogue and encouraging others interested in business, politics, and economics to buy this book.  This is the first non-fiction book that I have reviewed for my blog.  I have avoided non-fiction for awhile ( I was working two full-time jobs for about four years and it was just hard to process after working so much!), but found Grand Pursuit to be well worth the effort.  Based on non-fiction I’ve read in the past, I would recommend this book for readers who like Jared Diamond’s work, perhaps booklovers’ who read The Fate of Africa, and reader’s of Thomas Friedman’s work.

My final thoughts are that Nasar makes a very good case for the positive change that these eoncomists have wrought, but did this century and a half of work to influence great economies and work to convince politicians that deficit spending was beneficial help to bring about our world’s current sovereign debt crisis?  I am afraid that it is so and hence my question mark on the end of the title.

I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book free from Simon & Schuster, Inc.  I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

Book Details:  Published by Simon & Schuster (September 13, 2011), 576 pages, ISBN: 0684872988.