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By Philippe Legrain 2 COMMENTS

I read so many books last year as part of my research for
Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them that I have taken it easy this
year, and taken more time to enjoy novels such as Salman Rushdie’s
Shalimar The Clown and  Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

Among the non-fiction books I read, five of the best were:

Tim Harford, The Undercover Economist

Tim has a knack for
making economics -€“ which is basically, he says, about who gets what and
why – interesting and relevant, and he uses the so-called dismal
science to explain how the world around us really works. UK | US (I don’t make a penny from these Amazon links)

Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, Freakonomics

is a brilliant economist, and Freakonomics is full of original
insights. But it is also, unfortunately, full of puff and padding; the article from the New York Times magazine on which it is based is much better. UK | US

Anna Lee Saxenian, The New Argonauts

Forget the brain
drain: today’s highly skilled migrants -€“ the new Argonauts – circulate
between the US and developing countries, creating new technology
businesses and spreading prosperity along the way. UK | US

Niall Ferguson, The Cash Nexus

Ferguson explains the
importance -€“ and limits – of money in shaping history since 1700.
Thought-provoking, although it inevitably fails to achieve its grand
ambitions. UK | US

Amartya Sen, Identity and Violence

A Nobel laureate in
economics, Sen’s interests have always ranged more widely. Here, he
explains how reductionist and simplistic concepts of identity can lead
to violence -€“ an issue that is at the heart of the debates over
multiculturalism, Islamic fundamentalism, the so-called "clash of
civilisations" and much else besides. UK | US

The most over-rated book of the year:

Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat

No, it isn’t. "A Brief
History of the Twenty-First Century"? Pff. More like "A long-winded
ego-trip by a journalist who talks to lots of VIPs but grasps very
little." UK | US

Posted 19 Dec 2006 in Blog
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