Monthly book roundup – 2015 March

Books finished in March:
(Warning: reviews are unpolished and quickly written.)

Body of Lies: A Novel (2008) by David Ignatius. Spy fiction about games and trickery between US, Jordanian, and al-Qaida intelligence. Entertaining, but not my favorite genre.

Euphoria (2010) by Lily King. On the recommendation of Chris Blattman. Three anthropologists in the jungle. Love triangle. Found it boring.

The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (2010) by Michael Lewis. Makes the case that rating agencies not doing their job and bankers and money managers not facing downside risk are potent combination, which largely caused the financial crisis of 2007-2010. A case in point is the collateralized debt obligations created by in a way combining debt repayments, which were divided up into tranches according to default risk. So far, so good, however, of these “towers of debt,” even when consisting of only “ground floors,” as much as (the top) 80 % could be rated as AAA. And this could be done again and again… One is left wondering why so many investors seemed to pay so little attention, but the book is in any case a good and entertaining exposition of one account of the crisis. Like most of Lewis’ books, recommended.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery (2014) by Henry Marsh. Anecdotes from the life of a brain surgeon. Unpolished in a good sense, Marsh seems to be not too concerned about what people think of him. E.g. he is very old style in having little respect for work hour regulations etc., and is not afraid to say so. Though there is not much reflection around the possibility that this may be a more sustainable long-term solution. Thinks specialization is lacking among surgeons in the UK. Much discussion about the risks, uncertainties, and trade-offs involved in brain surgery. Ok.

The Intuitionist: A Novel (2000) by Colson Whitehead. I wanted to like this book set in the unlikely environment of the elevator inspector business, but id did not do so much for me. Did not finish it.

Ratings and old books are in the library.

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