Monday, October 10, 2011

Reading Confidence Men

My current spare time reading* is Confidence Men, Ron Suskind's book on Wall Street and the Presidency.  Without "taking sides" with regard to Larry Summers, I have to admit enjoying reading this paragraph:

"It all boils down to the classic Larry Summers problem:  he can frame arguments with such force and conviction that people think he knows more than he does.  Instead of looking at a record pockmarked with bad decisions, people see his extemporaneous brilliance and let themselves be dazzled.  Summers's long career has come to look, more and more, like one long demonstration of the difference between wisdom and smarts."

In Summers's defense(?), there are lots of people who would fit this description...

* As a parent who tries to read what my kids are reading, my future spare time reading looks to be the similarly political but less timely Mockingjayand the new-to-me series Artemis Fowl.  Recommendations for 8-10 year-old readings welcome.


Anonymous said...

The "Amulet of Samrkhand" is pretty nice reading for the YA age group. Also, "Dark is Rising" by Susan Cooper.

Anonymous said...

A less timely, but more timeless, recommendation would be Melville's "The Confidence-Man: His Masquerade." It's his last novel, about a swindler who, in a host of different disguises, preys on the passengers on board a Mississippi steamboat on April Fool's day. As the book progresses the scope of the deceit of the Confidence-Man (who may or may not be Satan in disguise) grows wider and wider -- he's after more than just money. The last chapter, where he extinguishes the light of the entire world and leads a gullible old man off into darkness, is really powerful. (Probably not of much interest to the pre-teen set, though.)

Anonymous said...

I would highly recommend Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't have any reading recommendations. But, I do have a comment on the paragraph you quoted from Suskind's book. That we are dazzled by a lot of irrelevance extends to every aspect of our lives. We are dazzled by our leaders in religion, politics, entertainment and even corporations. All it seems to take is for someone to have become what we desire to be and blind devotion follows. Add to this a dash of personal benefit and you end up with a strong base of followers.

I think that as human beings, we are not always so insightful as to recognize things as they are. Time is a great aid as the dazzling brilliance slowly fades away leaving nothing but cold reality.

I guess, now I have to read this book even though the topic of the book is not one that interest me. Thanks!