Ghettoside Summary

Ghettoside SummaryA True Story of Murder in America

“Someone is killed nearly every day in Los Angeles County,” reminds us Jill Leovy. And practically nobody is doing anything about it. Because it’s usually blacks killing blacks.

Ghettoside” is about one guy, John Skaggs, who did many things when another one, Bryant Tennelle, was senselessly murdered. And about how his actions can teach us what can be done in the future and what hasn’t been done in the past.

Who Should Read “Ghettoside”? And Why?

As its blurb states pinpointedly, “Ghettoside” is a “masterly work of literary journalism about a senseless murder, a relentless detective, and the great plague of homicide in America.” But, it’s also so much more – it’s a story about the forgotten ones and about the reasons why we forgot them.

People who want to understand the reasons behind this are welcomed to read “Ghettoside.” Those who have developed a prejudice against black communities based on their homicide rates should make this book a priority read. Finally, supporters of police reforms will find here few essential arguments to use in future discussions.

About Jill Leovy

Jill LeovyJill Leovy is an American journalist and editor.

She worked for “The Los Angeles Times” from 1993 to 2017, covering all kinds of topics before becoming a crime correspondent in 2002. Most recently, she wrote about cybersecurity and related subjects.

Ghettoside” was published in 2015. It is Leovy’s only book so far.

“Ghettoside Summary”

Here how the story originally went:

“Bryant Tennelle, 18, a young black man, was shot in the head in front of 1858 W. 80th St. near St. Andrews Street in Los Angeles. The assailant walked up to Bryant and shot him. He was taken to a hospital, where he died at 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 11.”

After murdering Tennelle, the assailant ran down the street, jumped into an SUV, and vanished. According to Jill Leovy, there was a high chance that would have been the end of the story.

The reason?

It was a “ghettoside” murder, one of thousands and thousands of similar offenses of a young black man killing another. And, Leovy claims, as far as the American police forces are concerned, “ghettoside” murders are all about statistics; as if they have nothing to do with heartbroken mothers and grief-stricken sisters.

Tennelle’s murder, fortunately, was not about to go down that easily. Especially not with John Skaggs, an LAPD detective who went far and wide to find the perpetrators. Finally, he did, so the Homicide Report was able to put the story to rest:

“Update: This case has been solved. A 25-year-old black man and a 16-year-old black youth have been arrested and charged with the murder of Bryant Tennelle. They probably had no idea they were killing the son of a police officer. They both face trial. The arrests were the work of LAPD South Bureau Det. John Skaggs.”

And no, John Skaggs wasn’t Bryant’s father. However, Lyone claims, “if every murder and every serious assault against a black man on the streets were investigated with Skaggs’s ceaseless vigor and determination – investigated as if one’s own child were the victim, or as if we, as a society, could not bear to lose these people – conditions would have been different.”

What conditions?

Well, those in the ghettos, about which Elvis Presley tearjerkingly sang back in 1969. It was a song about the cycle of poverty and violence some people can’t get out of. Half a century later, we have learned nothing from that song, have we?

Because if you remember the analysis in “Freakonomics,” unlike white communities, black still have the same severe problems with crime. Jill Leovy provides the shocking numbers.

Namely, even though black people form just 6% of the overall population in LA, 1 in 2 homicide victims is a black man. Which, in other words, means that on every 35 black men living in Los Angeles, 1 will probably end up murdered!

That’s stats for you right there.

Frightening, horrible, accurate stats!

But, what can we do about them?

Well, as Jill Leovy states herself, “Ghettoside” is a book with a straightforward premise. Namely, “where the criminal justice system fails to respond vigorously to violent injury and death, homicide becomes endemic.”

Or, as she likes to say borrowing a metaphor from Albert Camus, a plague.

What does this mean?

It means something Sudhir Venkatesh experienced on his own skin while living in the Chicago ghettos (ironically, the same Elvis sings about). Namely, that African American ghetto communities don’t trust the police, not because they are inherently bad, but because the police haven’t been doing their job the way John Skaggs had in the case of Bryant Tennelle.

So, in other words, gangs don’t cause lawlessness – they are its consequence.

Wait a minute, you may say! But, there are so many police patrols in the ghettos, and I’ve seen them confiscating marijuana and arresting petty thieves so many times!

But, that – that right there is the problem.

Wait… what?

They do that, alright. But they don’t solve murders. In fact, only 1 in 3 “ghettoside” murders ever get an epilogue. Which means that out of 100 murdered African Americans, about 70 lives are as important to us as squashed bugs.

You can see where we’re going with this, can’t you? And Leovy’s advice from above makes sense now, doesn’t it?

Solve the murders. Get their trust. Save many lives.

Key Lessons from “Ghettoside”

1.      Nobody Cares About a Ghettoside Murder
2.      Black Communities Have Their Own Justice Systems
3.      “Gangs Are a Consequence of Lawlessness, Not a Cause”

Nobody Cares About a Ghettoside Murder

A white man kills a black man – that’s a hate crime. A black man kills a white man – now, that’s a serious cause for concern among all those peace-loving racists out there. A black man kills a black man – meh, it happens all the time.

We need to talk about that, says Jill Leovy. We need to talk about the injustice and find a way to repair it. Because it’s not merely injustice: it’s a plague.

And because, as the epigraph to “Ghettoside” says (borrowed from Albert Camus): “When you see the suffering and pain that it brings, you’d have to be blind, mad, or a coward to resign yourself to the plague.”

Black Communities Have Their Own Justice Systems

Ghettos have their own way of functioning. It’s a law within the law. But it’s not their own fault: it’s history’s.

Namely, you have to be aware that for the most of history, it was us (the whites) against them (the blacks). But it wasn’t a fair fight since us meant power and guns, and them meant no means for survival whatsoever. Now think about what a ghetto means in this context.

And why African Americans tell nothing even though they usually know everything about certain murders. To them, being a “snitch” still means betraying their own. Because they still believe in a higher law – the law of the ghetto and the street.

“Gangs Are a Consequence of Lawlessness, Not a Cause”

LAPD does very little to put an end to this. Because it punishes African Americans for smuggling marijuana, but it solves only 1 in 3 “ghettoside” murders. This results in an even more significant distrust for the police in these communities.

So, basically, they are lawless because no one bothers to implement the law in the first place. Our best chance of doing something about it: solving the unsolved murder cases.

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“Ghettoside” Quotes

The system’s failure to catch killers effectively made black lives cheap. Click To Tweet White people ‘had the law’... Black people didn’t. Formal law impinged on them only for purposes of control, not protection. Small crimes were crushed, big ones indulged—so long as the victims were black. Click To Tweet Take a bunch of teenage boys from the whitest, safest suburb in America and plunk them down in a place where their friends are murdered and they are constantly attacked and threatened… Then see what happens. Click To Tweet Before anything else, Bryant was black. To Devin Davis, that meant he was killable. Click To Tweet When you see the suffering and pain that it brings, you’d have to be blind, mad, or a coward to resign yourself to the plague. (via Albert Camus) Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Ghettoside” was a “New York Times” bestseller and named one of the ten best books of the year by numerous publications. It was also a finalist for “The National Book Critics Circle Award.”

In other words: it attracted the attention of the public, and the critics didn’t save any of their compliments and five-star ratings.

Moving and riveting, heart-wrenching and penetrating, “Ghettoside” is a book which deserves both.

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The Man Who Fed the World Summary

The Man Who Fed the World SummaryNobel Peace Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug and His Battle to End World Hunger

Are you looking for an inspiring story? – Something that can get you started?

Although we hate to admit, the world has become one self-centered place, and we must do something about it before it’s too late.

In this review, we discuss the main factors that are a part of the War – declared on hunger and starvation.

Who Should Read “The Man Who Fed the World”? And Why?

Is there anything nobler than standing up for those, who are too weak and neglected by their governments? – We sincerely doubt it.

The Man Who Fed the World” is an amazing story about a person, who unlike any other was driven by honesty and integrity to save the planet. We recommended to everyone willing to explore the reasons behind Borlaug’s ideology.  

About Leon Hesser

Leon Hesser is an expert regarding agricultural science and economy.

He is also a former farmer, who heads the U.S. program that targets the increase of food-production globally.

“The Man Who Fed the World Summary”

The Stalin’s purges and famine imposed mostly on the KuIaks marked only the beginning of worldly starvation, which continued after WW2.

In colonized Africa, and some Communist countries, the situation was escalating, but the international community felt no urge to react.

One highly skilled, and prominent “artisan” known by the name of Norman Borlaug had humble beginnings. Born in 1914, he soon faced the “1930 Great Depression”, spiced up with the devastating effects of WW2.

He literally revolutionized the ideas about agriculture, with plans in mind to install a mentality, which would become the fundamental ground for fighting hunger, and exploitation to unknown scales.

His optimism and passion were ignited during his school days, where the wrestling coach taught him a valuable lesson – Don’t bother starting a new campaign, if you are not prepared to give all you got!!

On numerous occasion, he encountered the same question: – What is your strategy for eradicating hunger from the face of the Earth? – He promptly replied: Focusing more on the yield of wheat crops, and in return, we can extract more food per farmland.

Many questioned his ideas, but somehow success and endurance revolved around him – building a shield against those who tried to obstruct the progress.

His commitment inspired many, and his endeavors to integrate all parties were not so well-received.

Every society has its own way of utilizing agriculture, and changing tradition come at a price.

Norman was aware that success is only possible if the government agrees to provide support through an aggressive campaign to upgrade the production systems.

He never felt hesitation to argue with government officials, whose policies were not only harmful to their community, but to the world.

In later years, he managed to convince the Indians, Pakistani, and Mexicans that the government must assist the production of crop fertilizers, and to avoid trade interference.

The work and his ideas had a considerable impact on Mexican agriculture, altering the core of the system.

During those days, the green revolution was preparing for take-off, and people throughout the world labeled it as a wheat and corn revolution.

Borlaug as a head of the program, and campaign to wipe out starvation on a global scale, had intentions to imply the value of wheat productions, even in countries dependent on harvesting.

These practices were later put to the test in both India and Pakistan, starting a boundless green revolution.

So, what was the trigger for turning a simple wheat revolution into a full-scale global green uprising?

His work extended beyond agricultural borders, and by using various links and networks located in research centers, Borlaug managed to spread the mania on a worldly basis.

For instance, he didn’t allow scientist to extract info from other projects, but instead to conduct their own set of analyzes.

One might wonder – How did Borlaug win the Nobel Peace Prize? – He was merely focusing on famine, not the war! Think of it this way: Many people are driven to war due to lack of resources available, which can be a dangerous incentive for activating a conflict.

In truth, there was only one class that truly supported Borlaug’s intentions to the full extent. The poor and hungry; those who felt the burden of an empty belly, and lack of human rights.

They didn’t criticize his endeavors and even praised his ideas – as the green revolution founder.

According to Borlaug’s beliefs, a farmer cannot trust a scientist who sits in a lab, without experiencing the hardship of harvesting.

Getting your hands dirty, and absorbing the burden of wheat production, is the only way you be allowed to suggest other forms for altering the food-production system.

What has left of the green revolution?

No one can say that we (as a global community) have managed to overcome the seriousness of the situation.

However, Borlaug laid down strong foundations for next generations with hopes that one day hunger will no longer pose a threat to the world.

The end goal is to offer employment opportunities to young and motivated people, to replace those, who can no longer provide valuable service to their community.

Key Lessons from “The Man Who Fed the World

1.      The shortages of high-quality staff must be replenished
2.      Dedicate yourself fully, to your cause
3.      Control the birth-rate, especially in rural communities

The shortages of high-quality staff must be replenished

Unfortunately, the scarcity of knowledgeable personnel with sincere motives affects the expansion of agricultural science.

Addressing this problem required expertise, something that Borlaug had and wanted to use in order to inflict change upon the world.

Dedicate yourself fully, to your cause

In today’s numbers and professional analyzes, Borlaug’s organization deserves all the credit for saving more than a billion of lives.

Although he is known as a man who immersed in his work, he expected the same from his associates.

Control the birth-rate, especially in rural communities

In his famous and enlightening speech, Borlaug warned about another danger that threatens to destabilize the world.

The population growth is one problem covering all spheres of human influence, and it can largely contribute to world hunger if we don’t combine our efforts.

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Our Critical Review

Not much can be said expect that Borlaug was a great man that will be remembered for his efforts and practices.

One cannot simply dislike such book and story.

According to us, “The Man Who Fed the World” deserves the highest praises for its message, and practical side.

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The Communist Manifesto Summary | FREE PDF |

The Communist Manifesto pdfOur “The Communist Manifesto Summary” aims to tell you everything you need to know about the booklet which launched a thousand revolutions and, for a while, burnt the topless towers of capitalism.

And love it or hate it, “The Communist Manifesto” is undoubtedly one of the most essential and influential nonfiction books ever written.

Commissioned by the Communist League and published in London in February 1848, this little book of no more than a hundred pages, changed the world as much as any other book in the history of humankind.

It inspired thinkers and philosophers; it generated revolutions and violent overthrows worldwide.

And it’s still as relevant as when it was first published.

But what is “The Communist Manifesto”? Who wrote it and why did it make such a fuss in so many countries? And do you really need to know about it even today, when communism is part of a tumultuous but largely forgotten past?

Read on to find out!

Who Should Read “The Communist Manifesto”? And Why?

“The Communist Manifesto” – officially known as “The Manifesto of the Communist Party” – was published in the most revolutionary year in human history, 1848.

Its main objective was to present a digested analysis of capitalism and its inherent faults, briefly outlining the ways in which capitalism will be superseded by a new stage in human history, socialism. (Francis Fukuyama would beg to differ.)

Written in a rousingly poetic manner, “The Communist Manifesto” would rise from initial obscurity to become a rallying cry for a host of unsatisfied masses.

And come the 20th century, this booklet will basically become a Bible for half the world. Nowadays, it’s lauded by some for its prophetic power, and blamed by others for the deaths of millions.

Either way, don’t be one of those guys who just say things based on second-hand non-objective sources.

Read “The Communist Manifesto” because, as Peter Osborne says, it is “the single most influential text written in the nineteenth century.”

And, yes, that’s the century which gave us Tolstoy and Dickens, not to mention Darwin’s “Origin of Species” and the theory of evolution!

Also, because it’s really brief. And can change the way you think. No matter which side you are on.

About Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Karl MarxKarl Marx was a German polymath, one of the most important intellectuals in human history. He was a philosopher and a historian, an economist and a political theorist.

Nowadays, he is chiefly remembered as the author of “The Communist Manifesto” and the gargantuan three-volume “Capital,” the foremost economic and political analysis of the inner workings of capitalism.

Both books are widely read and discussed year in year out, making Marx, by a wide margin, “the most influential scholar in history.”

Friedrich EngelsFriedrich Engels – sometimes anglicized as Frederick Engels – was a German philosopher, social scientist, and businessman.

Engels’ father was an owner of a large textile factory in Manchester, England, but, influenced by Hegel and other thinkers, Friedrich grew up as a liberal-minded thinker.

To turn him away from this path, his father sent him to work at the factory. This, however, would have the opposite effect on Engels, inspiring him to write “The Condition of the Working Class in England.”

Marx was profoundly impressed by the book, and ever since 1844, he and Engels were inseparable collaborators and lifelong friends. Engels edited and published the second and the third volume of “Das Kapital” after Marx’s death.

“The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,” possibly the first major work on family economics, is one of the few books Engels would write on his own afterward.

“The Communist Manifesto PDF Summary”

Both the Preamble to “The Communist Manifesto” and the pamphlet itself begin with widely quoted sentences.

The opening words to the former are the following: “A specter is haunting Europe — the specter of communism.

All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies.”

Marx’s and Engels’ takeaways from this observation?

First of all, that communism, even as a somewhat spontaneous movement, is already acknowledged as a power by the whole of Europe; and secondly, that, if it so, it’s time for the communists to make their views known to the world.

And that’s when Chapter 1, “Bourgeois and Proletarians” commences. Its opening sentence – “The history of all hitherto societies has been the history of class struggles” – sets the tone of the discussion which follows. Namely, that throughout all history, there are people who rule and people who are ruled.

As Marx writes in continuation, “Freeman and slave, patrician and plebeian, lord and serf, guild-master and journeyman, in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, that each time ended, either in the revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

At the time when Marx and Engels were writing, the oppressive minority was the bourgeoisie which controlled the means of production.

They themselves were once oppressed, but thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit, and fueled by the discovery of America and the French Revolution, they came out on top during their struggle against the feudal landowners of before.

And by the middle of the 19th century, they became so powerful that, basically, they were the ones controlling the state affairs – not the other way around. “The executive of the modern State,” write Marx and Engels, “is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”

However, if history taught us anything, the bourgeoisie was about to become a thing of the past as well. Because, so as to increase their own capital, they had to exploit the workers more and more.

And the workers – Marx and Engels call them proletarians – will undeniably one day become aware of their potential and rebel.

“What the bourgeoisie, therefore, produces,” conclude the German writers, “is its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.”

Ryan Walker, an American socialist and cartoonist, presented how this will happen in a funny little cartoon drawn in 1915.

the communist manifesto summary

Not much has changed to this day, has it?

Oh, wait: it has! And it will – for the worse. In the very same direction, Marx and Engels predicted.

Now, one may argue that the first chapter of “The Communist Manifesto” is by far the most read, discussed, and interesting one. However, it merely presents the theory, a materialist conception of history debated ever since.

And Marx himself wrote – one more time, memorably – just three years before the Manifesto, in the eleventh and final thesis on Feuerbach that “philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Well, that’s where Chapter 2, “Proletariats and Communists,” comes in handy.

After reassuring that the communist philosophy is, in its essence, a philosophy of the proletariat, it’s here that Marx and Engels present the practice, the actual changes which communists intend to implement once they come to power.

Noting that different measures should be taken in different countries, “The Communist Manifesto” lists ten measures which, as it claims, should be “generally applicable” in “most advanced countries.”

First of all: abolition of property in land and abolition of all rights of inheritance. In other words, eradication of the concept of private property. This should, of course, come at a price – namely, the confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.

Then, a heavy progressive task – which, even today, may be our only way to decrease inequality.

Fifth and – the establishment of a national bank with an exclusive monopoly. Next, centralization of the means of communication and transport.

Seventh – “extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State.” Followed by an attempt to create “equal liability of all to work” and gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country.

Finally, the abolition of children’s factory labor and the granting of free education for all.

Now, here’s a summary of a book written after the financial crisis of 2008-9! Interestingly enough, even today, some of these measures still make a lot of sense.

The third chapter of “The Communist Manifesto” is titled “Socialist and Communist Literature,” and is Marx’s and Engels’ way of distinguishing the communist movement against other social and socialist movements of the day.

Communism is here presented as the proletariat’s only viable option because other movements fail to recognize the existence of class struggle and/or the need for a violent revolution to overthrow the oppressive classes.

Finally, the fourth chapter, “Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Opposition Parties,” announces the international character of communism, describing the struggles in few European countries at the time of writing and listing the existing parties and movements communists support in each of them.

Once you read it, it’s highly likely you will never forget the final paragraph of the pamphlet:

“The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.

Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win! Working men of all countries, unite!”

Key Lessons from “The Communist Manifesto”

1.      All History is a Class Struggle
2.      A Communist Revolution Should Establish the First Classless Society in History
3.      So, How Right Were the Young Marx and Engels?

All History is a Class Struggle

As it states in the very first sentence, “The Communist Manifesto” attempts to show that whole history is a struggle between the ruling and the ruled classes.

Once the former were patricians and the latter plebeians, recently they were lords and serfs.

However, the underlying philosophy is the same: very few people have much, and the many have all too little.

What Marx and Engels noticed is that each of these periods of history ended when the inequality reached a point at which the latter had nothing to lose but their chains.

So, peacefully or violently, they rebelled. And became the new masters.

A Communist Revolution Should Establish the First Classless Society in History

At the time that Marx and Engels were writing “The Communist Manifesto,” the bourgeoisie was the ruling class, and the proletariat the ruled one.

The former had the means of production and the money, while the latter earned very little, working most of their day.

In Marx’s and Engels’ opinion, there’s no way that this will be the final stage of history.

At one point, the proletariat will realize that they are producing much more than the whole world would ever need – and will put an end to being exploited.

The sooner – say Marx and Engels – the better for them and their children.

Because the new society they are proposing – based on the abolition of private property – should be a society of equals.

“In place of the old bourgeois society,” write Marx and Engels,” with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.”

So, How Right Were the Young Marx and Engels?

A little perspective:

In 1848, most of the people considered things such as slavery or child labor to be just ways to gain an advantage in the free market.

Together with few other related factions, communism was one of the first political movements to advocate for the abolition of such practices, in addition to promoting free education for all as the only way for people to be aware of their rights and freedom.

However, the young Marx and Engels didn’t bother to find a way to establish such a society without violence.

And though they predicted virtually everything which has since happened in capitalist countries, they predicted almost nothing of the things which occurred in communist ones.

Nor that there may be some other, more peaceful way by which capitalism should eventually evolve into socialism.

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“The Communist Manifesto” Quotes

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Click To Tweet A specter is haunting Europe—the specter of Communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this specter; Pope and Czar, Metternich and Guizot, French radicals and German police spies. Click To Tweet All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away; all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is… Click To Tweet Modern bourgeois private property is the final and most complete expression of the system of producing and appropriating products, that is based on class antagonisms, on the exploitation of the many by the few. Click To Tweet Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries unite! Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Some of the ideas presented in “The Communist Manifesto” haven’t aged well. Others have aged just like a fine wine.

Speaking of the latter, academic John Raines wrote in 2002 that nowadays, when the “Capitalist Revolution has reached the farthest corners of the earth” and “the tool of money has produced the miracle of the new global market and the ubiquitous shopping mall,”

“The Communist Manifesto” seems like a prophetic work. Read it, he adds “and you will discover that Marx foresaw it all.”

You don’t really need to agree with Raines. But, we think that it would be good if you disagree only after reading through this book.

The best part is – it’s in public domain and you don’t even have to buy it. Here’s one of the many translations, available online, both as a text and as audio, but also downloadable as The Communist Manifesto PDF.

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Killing the Rising Sun Summary | FREE PDF |

Killing the Rising Sun PDF

OUr “Killing the Rising Sun Summary” includes a short recapitulation of the Pacific War and a long justification of why the U.S. had no choice but to use the atomic bomb to win it.

How America Vanquished World War II Japan

The Second World War was the most global war in history and the deadliest conflict since the dawn of humankind. And it ended barely seven decades ago!

Yet – Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard claim – we’ve forgotten most of it. Especially Americans – when it comes to the Pacific War. Even though “the issues of that war are still being processed throughout the world today.”

Their book, “Killing the Rising Sun,” should serve as a thriller-like novelistic reminder to everyone of what actually happened after Pearl Harbor.

Who Should Read “Killing the Rising Sun”? And Why?

“Killing the Rising Sun” is the sixth book in Bill O’Reilly’s and Martin Dugard’s “Killing” series.

The series started to relatively warm reviews with “Killing Lincoln” which was turned into a successful TV movie just two years after being published. The same happened with “Killing Kennedy” and “Killing Jesus;” both of which were subsequently nominated for few awards.

Due to their controversial nature, the fourth and fifth book in the series, “Killing Patton” and “Killing Reagan,” were not as well-received by the critics, but were bestsellers nevertheless, with the latter one adapted as a movie once again.

Even though in “Killing the Rising Sun,” O’Reilly and Dugard move from “killing” historical figures to “killing” a whole nation, if you’ve ever read either of these five books or watched any of the four films – you already know what to expect from this one.

You won’t be disappointed. However, people interested in fact-based historiography may as well be; mainly, due to the fact that (just like the previous books in the series), “Killing the Rising Sun” is once again somewhat subjective.

Those who like to read historical novel may have a ball reading “Killing the Rising Sun” – since the book is a suspenseful pot boiling page-turner. Even though, unlike most of the historical novels you’ve read, this one’s not allowed by genre to steer away from actual historical data.

About Bill O’Reilly & Martin Dugard

Bill O’ReillyBill O'Reilly is an American journalist and television host.

He came to prominence during the early 1990s and became a national celebrity after joining the “Fox News Channel” as the host of “The O’Reilly Factor,” the highest-rated cable news show for over a decade and a half.

In April 2017, however, “Fox News” had to terminate O’Reilly’s contract, in view of a “New York Times” article, revealing that Bill O’Reilly had paid six women nearly $50 million to settle as many sexual harassment lawsuits.

Martin DugardMartin Dugard is an American author, primarily focused on writing narrative non-fiction. He has co-authored – with O’Reilly – all six (about to become seven) books in the “Killing” series.

In addition, he has written the critically well regarded “The Last Voyage of Columbus,” “Into Africa,” “Farther Than Any Man,“ a few sports-related books, and a screenplay for a movie, “A Warrior’s Heart.”

“Killing the Rising Sun PDF Summary”

Five days after 9/11, Barack Obama’s longtime pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr., commented on the event in a church sermon which included “a stunning anti-American diatribe.”

Among other things, as the U.S. public found out about seven years later when the media uncovered the speech, Wright said the following:

“We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon… America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

In other words, Wright was saying that there may have been a reason why 9/11 happened. And that one needn’t go further than the Second World War to unearth it. As you sow, so shall you reap. What goes around comes around.

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard decided to write “Killing the Rising Sun” upon hearing this and realizing that nowadays it goes largely unchallenged.

Have we forgotten – they ask – what led to the U.S. dropping the A-bombs over Japan? And what could have happened if America didn’t do that?

“Killing the Rising Sun” tries to answer these questions, jumping back and forth from the Pentagon to the Philippines, from Los Alamos (where the mysterious J. Robert Oppenheimer was working on the atomic bomb) to Tokyo (where the Japanese adored their Emperor Hirohito as if a deity). But, the real beginning of the book may go way back to 17th century Japan and the samurai code of bushido.

Initially a hazy ­concept analogous to the medieval chivalric model of behavior, bushido became the central part of the Japanese war propaganda during the years preceding the Second World War. It was indoctrinated to the point of presenting war as purifying, and death as duty.

Its result?

No-surrender soldiers.

Unsurprisingly, though outmatched both in numbers and technology, the Japanese won battle after battle against America and the allies, culminating in General Douglas MacArthur’s escape from the Philippine island of Corregidor. Up to that moment a symbol of Allied resistance, MacArthur had to back out of further fighting. President Roosevelt feared that the Japanese might capture or even murder him.

When MacArthur got to Australia on 21 March 1942, he made a famous speech, declaring: “I came through and I shall return.”

“Almost one thousand days after fleeing the Philippines,” write O’Reilly and Dugard, General Douglas McArthur would do exactly that. The liberation of the Philippines began on October 20, 1944.

It would not end, however, until August 15, 1945.

Six days before that, “Bockscar,” a Boeing B-29 Superfortress piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney, would drop the “Fat Man” over Nagasaki. And three days before this happened, “Enola Gay,” the same type of plane, became the first aircraft to drop an atomic bomb, code-named “Little Boy.” The pilot was Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.; the city: Hiroshima.

killing the rising sun summary

Now, we all know what happened to the citizens. Some of them – like, say, Mrs. Aoyama – were literally “vaporized” on the sport. Others died in terrible torment. And some say that there are related health issues even today, more than seventy years later.

O’Reilly and Dugard don’t try to blur this in no manner whatsoever. However, even though they portrait Franklin Roosevelt as a severe human rights offender – according to them, responsible for incarcerating hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans after the Pearl Harbor Attack and for allowing the Soviet Union post-war control of Eastern Europe – they have no problem with Harry Truman’s decision to drop the bombs.

Even more, they think that it was more than justified.

Because, as we said above, the Japanese wouldn’t surrender at no cost. And to make matters worse, after winning the war against Hitler, Stalin’s Soviet Union started an offensive against Japan from the North. So, there were two ways to end the war: either by using an A-bomb or by launching a land invasion.

The latter would have resulted in a joint intervention with the Soviets, which would have meant a substantial communist presence in Japan as well (in addition to Germany). Even more seriously, it would have probably claimed almost a million American lives.

Being a leader of the U.S., imply Dugard and O’Reilly, means making tough decisions. Dropping the A-bombs was one such decision.

But, nevertheless, it was the right one.

Key Lessons from “Killing the Rising Sun”

1.      Americans Have Forgotten Their Own History
2.      The Japanese Fight to the Death
3.      The A-Bombs Prevent Millions of Deaths and a Communist Japan

Americans Have Forgotten Their Own History

Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard wrote, “Killing the Rising Sun” as an attempt to counter the not-true-enough claims of many who believe that the dropping of the nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was a severe offense against human rights.

According to them, Americans need to relearn their history – because forgetting it makes them susceptible to manipulation and alternate facts.

The Japanese Fight to the Death

Remember General Patton’s most famous quip?

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

Well, the problem of the Pacific War stemmed from the Japanese thinking otherwise. According to their bushido code, dying in a war was honorific. And surviving it as a loser – was much worse than death.

Consequently, there was no way to win against Japan other than total annihilation.

The A-Bombs Prevent Millions of Deaths and a Communist Japan

Speaking of which – on August 6 and August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The effects – everybody knows – were devastating.

According to Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard – not nearly as the ones which we would have seen had it been otherwise. Because, if the United States hadn’t nuked Japan, they would have had to start a joint Soviet-American invasion. This would have resulted in a strong communist presence in Japan after the war.

And, even more frighteningly – it would have claimed up to a million American lives.

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“Killing the Rising Sun” Quotes

When you have to deal with a beast you have to treat him as a beast. It is most regrettable but nevertheless true. Click To Tweet ’It was kill or be killed,’ Marine Corps private Dan Lawler will later remember. ‘The Japs didn’t take prisoners, so we didn’t take prisoners either. Click To Tweet Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been built in remarkable fashion, with almost all buildings possessing the same concrete-and-steel constitution as those structures that survived the initial blasts. Click To Tweet Douglas McArthur knows the value of good publicity and he has carefully choreographed his landing so that the images of this great moment will soon be splashed across front pages around the world. Click To Tweet I think Harry Truman did the right thing. Thousands of Americans would have died invading Japan. Maybe even me. (A letter from George Bush to Bill O’Reilly, dated January 5, 2016) Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

In the introduction to “Killing the Rising Sun,” Bill O’Reilly claims that what he and Martin Dugard are about to share with the world is “true and stark” and “vital to understanding.” While the latter is inevitably correct, the former is, unfortunately, not.

And this is not because Bill O’Reilly has merely a BA in history and is primarily a journalist, and it is also not because Martin Dugard has no background in the area whatsoever.

But it is for the straightforward reason that “Killing the Rising Sun” is written by someone with an agenda; and, ever since Herodotus, real historiography is usually thought of in terms of impartiality and objectiveness.

If you like Bill O’Reilly’s views, you’ll certainly love this book. It will instill within you a patriotic feeling of the sort which makes your back tingle and your hair stand straight up.

If you don’t like him, however, then – you will find much less. The book is indeed not the best on the subject and is way too biased. Because, as a “USA Today” review stated at the time, O’Reilly “views history as another lens through which he can view himself.”

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Silent Spring Summary | FREE PDF |

Silent Spring PDF

Our Silent Spring PDF Summary examines how Rachel Carson’s famous book almost singlehandedly brought an end to the uncontrolled usage of DDT and other pesticides, and how it inspired ecologists and environmentalists worldwide to take a stand.

In January 1958, Olga Owens Huckins, a worried American citizen, wrote a letter to “The Boston Herald,” claiming that many birds around her property had died in torment as a result of a recent aerial DDT spraying operation, directed primarily at mosquitos.

Her friend, the famous marine biologist Rachel Carson, got a copy of the letter. After reading it quite a few times, and dedicatedly researching for the next four years, she realized that the letter wasn’t merely a peculiar observation, but a painful cry for help.

Not just on behalf of Huckins. But on behalf of Nature itself.

Silent Spring” was Carson’s heart-wrenching attempt at giving Nature her voice. And, fortunately for us, the generations living after, the people of her time heard.

And responded.

Who Should Read “Silent Spring”? And Why?

Published on 27 September 1962, “Silent Spring” was almost single-handedly responsible for turning the eye of the American nation – and, subsequently, the world – to the possible adverse effects of DDT and other synthetic pesticides.

And, as former U.S. presidential candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore wrote in the foreword to the anniversary 1992 edition, it “had a profound effect.” And that may even be an understatement – see “Our Critical Review” section for more.

In other words, even if you haven’t read “Silent Spring,” you may already adhere to it in your behavior. If you love nature and hate chemicals – it’s Rachel Carson’s fault. Read the book she’s most famous for and find it how.

About Rachel Carson

Rachel L. CarsonRachel Carson was an American marine biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Soon after, she turned to writing and, during the 1950s, she completed a critically lauded and lyrically written sea trilogy.

Published in 1951, “The Sea Around Us” was so successful that it was turned into an Academy Award-winning documentary the following year.

“The Edge of the Sea” followed, together with a reissuing of her first (then poorly selling) book, “Under the Sea Wind,” recognized today as one of the “definitive works of American nature writing.”

In 1958, she started writing “Silent Spring” which she completed in 1962, even though bedridden with diseases and diagnosed with cancer which will ultimately claim her life in 1964.

“Silent Spring” started an environmentalist revolution, and irreversibly changed the course of history.

“Silent Spring PDF Summary”

“There was once a town in the heart of America where all life seemed to live in harmony with its surroundings.”

That’s how “A Fable for Tomorrow,” the first chapter of “Silent Spring” commences – with a fictional story about a fictional idyllic town about to have some real-world problems.

Because, out of nowhere, a strange blight begins to creep over the area and everything starts to change. Maladies strike the animals; the farmers speak of family illnesses; several sudden and unexplained deaths baffle the town doctors.

A strange silence looms over the city; there are no birds in the sky. The spring is without voices – only silence lays over the fields and woods and marsh.

And the reason for all this?

A white granular powder – which “some weeks before… had fallen like snow upon the roofs and the lawns, the fields and the streams.”

“No witchcraft, no enemy action had silenced the rebirth of new life in this stricken world,” concludes Carson the story. “The people had done it themselves.”

silent spring summary

Because the white granular powder has a name. In fact, over 500 of them. And they are almost all neatly packed under a falsely reassuring umbrella-term: “pesticides.” The government tells you that they are helping us fight diseases.

The truth, however, may be much closer to the moral of the bleak cautionary tale: pesticides kill. And not just insects.

And already in the next chapters – “The Obligations to Endure,” “Elixirs of Death,” “Surface Waters and Underground Seas” – Carson puts her money where her mouth is. She starts documenting numerous tragedies stemming from pesticide use. According to her, specialists interested in making them more efficient, have begun ignoring the overall picture.

The result?

Pesticides are more and more efficient in eliminating certain insects, but are less and less efficient in doing that without harming the environment.

Birds suffer, fish suffer; even the human nervous system suffers from time to time. Water treatment plants don’t remove the chemicals because some of them form irreducible toxic compounds. Thus, Carson fears, even the water may become more and more polluted in the future, resulting in the rise of cancer victims.

Here are just two examples illustrating the dark and worrying way these pesticides pollute the environment.

During the fall of 1959, writes Carson in the seventh chapter of her book, “Needless Havoc,” about 27,000 acres were heavily dusted “with clay pellets containing one of the most poisonous of all the insecticides – a chemical called aldrin.”

The purpose?

Eliminating the whole population of Japanese beetles, noted pests of over 200 species of plants, first imported in the U.S. by accident sometime before the beginning of World War I.

Some perspective before we go on.

You see, now we know that aldrin is a notorious persistent organic pollutant (POP), but back in 1962 when “Silent Spring” was published, spraying it over an area caused as much an outrage as heavy summer rain.

In fact, people were explicitly told over the radio that they can go on doing whatever they were doing at the time since the pesticide was supposed to be harmless.

It wasn’t.

Highly lipophilic – i.e., dissolvable in lipids – aldrin can’t be washed away by water easily, since, on the contrary, its water solubility is very low. So, it stays to do damage well after the dusting occurs.

Not much time passed before people started noticing a large number of dead birds all around. They couldn’t know that even the birds which survived had their reproductive systems irreparably damaged. Veterinarians reported many cases of pet poisoning – cats especially. And doctors had problems to pinpoint the reasons behind the outbreak of nausea, vomiting, chills, and fever.

The sad part of the story?

There was absolutely no need for any dusting. The number of Japanese beetles hadn’t increased for over thirty years. It was merely the cheapest pesticide available.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only way some animals – especially birds – suffered.

“Over increasingly large areas of the United States,” writes Carson, “spring now comes unheralded by the return of the birds, and the early mornings are strangely silent where once they were filled with the beauty of birdsong.”

A chilling description – but a largely correct one. Especially if you take into account how easily environmental changes can affect the birds.

The second story proves this best.

In 1930, Dutch elm disease – a fungus disease which spreads by spores – was accidentally imported into the U.S. from Europe. The American elm tree is directly linked to the lifestyle of robins, so a twofold alarm was raised. And in 1954, the spraying began.

Two ornithologists working at Michigan State University soon noticed how the sprayed campus transformed into a sort of “graveyard for most of the robins that attempt to take up residence in the spring.”

Why?

Because robins ate earthworms that had consumed the sprayed bark!

And as if these stories are not enough – though the book has many more – Carson points out two more reasons why spraying insecticides is not only unnecessary but downright unintelligent.

First of all, it results in a disruption in the checks-and-balances system developed by nature through the million-year-long process of natural selection.

Now, insecticides didn’t only kill harmful insects – it also killed their predators. So, in a way, in trying to eliminate our enemy, we were eradication our allies as well.

This, in turn, resulted, not only in over-reliance on pesticides – but also in insects’ resistance to them. And if you’ve ever watched Del Toro’s 1997 “Mimic” you already know where that may ultimately take us.

Key Lessons from “Silent Spring”

1.      Humans Are Part of Nature – Not Out of It
2.      Pesticides Don’t Usually Work – for Two Reasons
3.      The Dangers of the New Era

Humans Are Part of Nature – Not Out of It

Wherever there’s some system, there’s also some balance in it. The Universe itself – as giant as it is – is a system: and a self-regulated one, indeed.

The Earth is a system as well. And its biosphere a system within this system.

However, humans tend to forget that. Starting from the very fact that they’re, in fact, animals – just a bit more evolved than most. And ending with a simple truism: when you are a part of a system, you can’t make changes within it, without being affected yourself.

But, don’t let us tell you.

Hear Chief Seattle’s speech – as read by beloved mythologist Joseph Campbell. Here’s the most relevant excerpt: “Man did not weave the web of life. He’s merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.”

Pesticides Don’t Usually Work – for Two Reasons

In a fragile system, every action counts.

Pesticides are humanity’s way of adapting this system to their needs. Because – never forget! – to the mind of a Japanese beetle, it is not really a pest. It merely eats to survive. Humans are the ones who have a problem with them – because the Japanese beetle eats the things they (the humans) like better than them.

However, the use of pesticides is based on a very simplified worldview. Namely – that you can use eradicate one species and do no damage to the other. This is not the case. In fact, by killing the insects we hate, we also kill the ones who eat them. And they, in this case, are our allies.

The second problem is pesticides is even more severe: pests become resistant after a while. And then, even we can’t think of ways to stop them.

The Dangers of the New Era

When Carson was writing “Silent Spring,” Soviet scientists had already started using the term “Anthropocene” to describe the age we’re living in. Nowadays, even journalists use the term to characterize the new era, the Era of Man.

It’s a double-edged sword this power we have, predicted and warned Carson. And, very recently, Elizabeth Colbert echoed the alarm: we’re in the middle of a new extinction of species. Unlike the five which precede it, this one’s unnatural. Or to be more exact, human-made.

The bittersweet part: we’re doing it to ourselves. And we can stop it.

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“Silent Spring” Quotes

This is an era dominated by industry, in which the right to make a dollar at whatever cost is seldom challenged. Click To Tweet Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature – the assurance that dawn comes after night, and… Click To Tweet Why should we tolerate a diet of weak poisons, a home in insipid surroundings, a circle of acquaintances who are not quite our enemies, the noise of motors with just enough relief to prevent insanity? Who would want to live in a world… Click To Tweet Nature has introduced great variety into the landscape, but man has displayed a passion for simplifying it. Thus he undoes the built-in checks and balances by which nature holds the species within bounds. Click To Tweet How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” created a social movement, an irreversible revolution of thought.

The deep ecology movement, the grassroots environmental movement, ecofeminism – these all stemmed from “Silent Spring.” The book, wrote H. Patricia Hynes, “altered the balance of power in the world. No one since would be able to sell pollution as the necessary underside of progress so easily or uncritically.”

Soon after “Silent Spring” was published, the pressure of the public resulted in the formation of Environmental Defense Fund. A few years later, the Environmental Protection Agency – described as “the extended shadow of ‘Silent Spring’” – was established, and by 1972 (a decade after “Silent Spring” first saw the light of day) DDT use was restricted to emergency-only cases.

But, the most significant victory of “Silent Spring” is something much less tangible than an act banning the use of DDT. It’s the way the book verbalized ecology as a new way of thinking about the world around us. As a title of a recent book on Carson describes it, it’s the way of “the gentle subversive.”

“Rachel Carson’s ‘Silent Spring’ played a large role in articulating ecology as a ‘subversive subject’” – writes Gary Kroll in an interesting essay, “as a perspective that cut against the grain of materialism, scientism, and the technologically engineered control of nature.”

Unsurprisingly, “Silent Spring” is considered by many to be one of the greatest nonfiction books ever written. 78th according to the editors of “National Review;” 16th in the opinion of the editors of the “Discover” magazine.

And David Attenborough claims that “Silent Spring” is “the book that most changed the scientific world,” other than Darwin’s “Origin of Species.”

And who are we to think otherwise?

Far from it:

Read it, reread it – never forget it. The world is too young to be silent.

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Fast Food Nation Summary | FREE PDF |

Fast Food Nation PDFThe Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Time to ruin your favorite meal! But no – we have no intention of talking about vegetarianism or veganism. We just want to tell you how your burgers and your French fries get to your table; and what’s actually in them.

And, boy, it’s a nasty sight – from the farm all the way to the life of the worker who hands you your order. Not to mention inside your Big Mac.

Eric Schlosser has all the details – in “Fast Food Nation.”

Who Should Read “Fast Food Nation”? And Why?

It’s not just Ridgemont High anymore – it’s fast times all around the world. And fast times ask for fast food: 1 in 2 Americans eats away from home nowadays, and 1 in 4 eats at a fast food restaurant.

No wonder the overall health of the country is declining, no wonder obesity is on the rise!

If you care about your health, “Fast Food Nation” is not a book you would want to miss. If there ever was a book which can make you rethink the way you eat – it’s this one! Even more – it can make you rethink the way you’re living your life.

Because “Fast Food Nation” is not only about the way you’re eating your food, but the way this affects the lives of many other people you don’t know. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer – even that may be your personal fault!

About Eric Schlosser

Eric SchlosserEric Schlosser is an American award-winning investigative journalist. A regular contributor to “The Atlantic Monthly,” his work has also appeared in “The New Yorker,” “Rolling Stone,” “Vanity Fair,” and “The Nation.”

He has authored few bestselling books. “Reefer Madness” examines the American pornographic industry, the misuse of migrant workers in California, and argues for the decriminalization of marijuana. “Command and Control” is a “myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons.”

In 2006, “Fast Food Nation” was adapted into a film directed by none other than Richard Linklater.

“Fast Food Nation PDF Summary”

This book should come with a warning: it’s quite possible that the burger you ate yesterday was the last you’ll ever eat in your life.

Because “Fast Food Nation” goes far and wide to convince you that every time you eat a hamburger, you’re making the world a bit worse. Not to mention the effects it has on your health.

Just ask Morgan Spurlock! He only ate McDonald’s food for a month and this had a drastic impact on his physical and psychological well-being!

But, then again – you may want to find an excuse – he ate too much and he didn’t exercise. I’ve only eaten few times at McDonald’s – so what’s the big deal?

A little history first!

McDonald’s is actually the company which made fast food a thing. And from the start – it wasn’t about good taste or healthy food. The McDonald brothers valued speed and efficiency above all!

So, they served only simple meals and adopted the factory assembly line inside their restaurants! The latter was revolutionary: every worker has in charge of just one simple task – and this reduced both costs and the time necessary to make a meal to the bare minimum!

And from 250 in 1960, McDonald’s rose to about 3,000 restaurants in 1973! No wonder Burger King, KFC, Wendy’s, Pizza Hut, Subway adopted the same model!

However, the success wasn’t all down to speed. It was also due to a dirty marketing trick nobody had every thought of before: targeting children and teenagers as potential customers!

About 90 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 9 visit McDonald’s at least once a month. That’s frightening to hear. Especially if you take into consideration how this came to be.

Namely, McDonald’s realized that kids trust commercials much more than adults, so they started exploiting this vulnerability.

Ronald McDonald, the playgrounds, the “Happy Meals” – they’re not there because McDonald’s loves your kids. They’re there because it knows that once your kid asks something from you – he or she will probably get it!

And the exploiting doesn’t end there!

Here’s a thought-provoking fact: two-thirds of American fast food workers are under 20! Most of them are migrants; almost all of them are poor. And no – that’s not because fast food restaurants want to give them a chance – unlike others.

It’s because the only ones who’ll ever work for a fast food restaurant are the ones with problems.

Don’t believe us?

Here’s another interesting trivia: about 70 percent of the robberies done at fast food restaurants are done by people who have either worked or were currently working for one of them at the time of the robbery!

The frightening thing is that fast food owners don’t even care. Because this way – they lose a lot less than if they improve the harsh working conditions of their employees. Who – by the way – are collectively fired if they ever get an idea of forming a union!

In a nutshell, wherever a fast food restaurant opens – everything gets ugly quite fast as well.

Because it’s not only about the employees. It’s also about everyone in the industry. U.S. potato farmers, for example, earn merely two cents for every $1.50-dollar French fries portion. And they can’t do anything about it, because, basically, the U.S. food industry is monopolized!

In their case, there are only three companies across America they can sell their products too!

And that’s just one less than the number of companies which slaughter about 90% of the country’s cattle!

And these meatpacking giants are the worst. They value a lost finger at no more than an average month’s pay – which is a few times higher than their workers’. Who, by the way, regularly take methamphetamine to keep up with the pace. And who can’t really protest because, basically, every fourth of them is illegally in the U.S.

No wonder that every time a slaughterhouse opens somewhere, the crime rates rocket.

Another thing which does the same: food poisoning victims! Almost 200,000 a day. And you only need to visit a slaughterhouse to see why.

We won’t go over the details so that you don’t start vomiting right away. But, we won’t skip over the most disgusting one, either.

Let’s just say that, sometimes, when you’re eating a burger, you’re also eating the things the animal it’s made of also ate.

Literally.

Yes, that’s what we’re talking about.

Key Lessons from “Fast Food Nation”

1.      Fast Food Restaurants Exploit Children
2.      The Food Is Cheap Because They Exploit Workers Too…
3.      …and Because It’s Not Good Food – or Even Food at All

Fast Food Restaurants Exploit Children

Fast food restaurants seem nice and cozy – and are a great way to spend some time with your children on a Sunday, right?

On second thought, the answer to that question is irrelevant. What is – it’s the fact that they got to be that way by exploiting your children.

That’s right!

McDonald’s knowingly – we’re looking at you, Disney – built its marketing campaigns to target children and teenagers. Because a 5-year-old kid can’t a “Happy Meal” on itself! And because, unlike adults, you can easily manipulate children!

Now, how is this allowed?

The Food Is Cheap Because They Exploit Workers Too…

A hamburger and a cheeseburger cost about $1. Large French fries about $2.5. Have you ever wondered – what’s up with the prices?

There’s, unfortunately, an obvious answer: nobody responsible for bringing the hamburger from a cow to your table is paid what he/she deserves. And will never be – because fast food restaurants do everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

Illegal immigrants, teenagers, circumventing labor laws, preventing unions – you name it! They know all the strategies – and they are not afraid to use them!

…and Because It’s Not Good Food – or Even Food at All

Another reason why the food at McDonald’s and King Burger is so cheap – because it’s not actually good food. Neither the meat, nor the French fries are processed the way they should be.

Because fast food restaurants have learned another trick: the content is not important; the form is. In other words, it’s a hamburger if it takes like one. But, unfortunately, there are not many strawberries in your strawberry milkshake.

And, yes – there’s much more than potatoes in your favorite McDonald’s French fries. But, we don’t know what the “more” is.

All we know is that it’s “animal products.” And that 200,000 people get food poisoning each day.

Bon Appetit!

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“Fast Food Nation” Quotes

The history of the twentieth century was dominated by the struggle against totalitarian systems of state power. The twenty-first will no doubt be marked by a struggle to curtail excessive corporate power. Click To Tweet The medical literature on the causes of food poisoning is full of euphemisms and dry scientific terms... Behind them lies a simple explanation for why eating a hamburger can now make you seriously ill: There is shit in the meat. Click To Tweet The market is a tool, and a useful one. But the worship of this tool is a hollow faith. Far more important than any tool is what you make with it. Click To Tweet Congress should ban advertising that preys upon children, it should stop subsidizing dead-end jobs, it should pass tougher food safety laws, it should protect American workers from serious harm, it should fight against dangerous… Click To Tweet Twenty years ago, teenage boys in the United States drank twice as much milk as soda; now they drink twice as much soda as milk. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Fast Food Nation” was voted by “Time” magazine to be one of the All-Time 100 Nonfiction Books. And if that’s not enough, just browse through thee reviews out there – the book is almost universally acclaimed as a modern classic, and regularly compared to Upton Sinclair’s 1906 novel “The Jungle”!

If you haven’t heard of that book by now, “The Jungle” – which also describes – is one of the earliest and greatest muckraking masterpieces. And if you haven’t heard that word by now, let us borrow for a second Wikipedia’s definition: “The term muckraker was used in the Progressive Era to reform-minded American journalists who attacked established institutions and leaders as corrupt.”

“The Jungle” managed – almost singlehandedly – to cause a public uproar which will culminate in the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906 (FMIA).

“Fast Food Nation” still hasn’t caused something on a comparable scale. But, if you ask us, with all the health declining and obesity rising, it shouldn’t be a question of if – but a question of when it inevitably will.

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Skin in the Game Summary | FREE PDF |

Skin in the Game SummaryHidden Asymmetries in Daily Life

Nassim Nicholas Taleb is one of the foremost thinkers of the modern age, a guy who can change the way you think about the world with almost every book he’s ever written.

Why?

Because he has had his fair share of meaningful experience; because he has taken the risks – losing some, but winning as well; in a word, because he has had his skin in the game.

Who Should Read “Skin in the Game”? And Why?

Even in a world of so many things happening, there are few intellectuals so influential that each of their books or speeches is an event. Think Steven Pinker, Sam Harris, Yuval Noah Harari, Malcolm GladwellNassim Nicholas Taleb is certainly part of this very rare group. Though, to be fair to him, he feels as if he’s in an even rarer.

For one, he doesn’t like at all the first half of the aforelisted foursome, comparing the first one to a Burger King drive-in in the national park of science. (Yes, they have debated a bit acrimoniusly in the past…)

Skin in the Game” was published on February 27, 2018 – and it’s already (we’re writing this summary barely a month later) – sold out in most of the bookstores around you! To say that it’s a book which will interest mostly economists and risk analysts would be an understatement. Just as it would be to say that people interested in sociology and social psychology will have a ball!

Just like every other work by Taleb, “Skin in the Game” is a book everyone should have a look at. And a book very few will regret buying.

About Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas TalebNassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American scholar and essayist, Distinguished Professor of Risk Engineering at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and one of the best-known, most profoundly beloved, and universally respected nonfiction authors.

A polyglot, Taleb earned bachelor and master of science degrees from the University of Paris before earning an MBA at the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. in Management Science from Paris Dauphine University in 1998. He started his professional career as a statistician and trader, before becoming a risk analyst and a published author.

His books focus mostly on risk management and uncertainty. In fact, in November 2016, four of them were published in a bundle called “Incerto”: “Fooled by Randomness,” “The Black Swan,” “The Bed of Procrustes,” and “Antifragile.”

Skin in the Game” joins the series.

“Skin in the Game Summary”

You may have already heard the story. But, even so, it’s worth repeating.

In Shakespeare’s famous play “The Merchant of Venice,” Bassanio, a young Venetian nobleman, asks his friend Antonio for 3,000 ducats so that he can woo a wealthy heiress called Portia.

Antonio, the guy with the profession from the title, doesn’t have the money at the moment but tells Bassanio that he can be the guarantor if Bassanio finds someone who’ll lend him the sum. Bassanio finds Shylock, a Jewish moneylender, who agrees to give Bassanio the money on one condition: if Antonio can’t pay him back “the pounds,” Shylock will get a pound of Antonio’s flesh.

That, right there, is the literalized version of the phrase “skin in the game.” It means having some part of you at stake; it means risking to lose something yours instead of merely transferring the risks to the others.

Or, in the words of Taleb himself:

Now, if you watched the video carefully, you might have noticed that Taleb mentions Hammurabi; and let’s face it, his laws are not actually considered the paragon of democracy today! But, Taleb’s “Skin in the Game,” nevertheless, sees much more justice in some of them than in the laws – or, the lack of them – we have today.

Bear with us for a second to see this in practice!

You are a client, and you want to buy some fast stocks and earn some fast money. The trader tells you that he has some which are great for your portfolio and which will undoubtedly gain value very soon. You buy them, of course; sometime later, you lose your initial investment.

But, that’s okay – the trader couldn’t have known everything! Win some, lose some – that’s the unofficial rule of the game, right?

Well, that’s the problem! It is for you; It’s not for him.

Either way, he’s going to get his money. And, as Taleb learned while working for an investment bank himself, what you were told when you bought the stocks was probably absolute nonsense. The trader almost certainly had some surplus and wanted to sell the unwanted shares.

And, since he is a seller – he used each and every dirty trick in the book to persuade you and influence your decision.

But, then again, we just said: he is a seller. Meaning: he is also a storyteller. Consequently, he has all the right to do that. In other words: he didn’t do anything illegal; it’s the buyer’s fault – he shouldn’t have believed him.

Well, you’re partly right – if you live in a WEIRD society! Many other cultures, just like Ancient Babylon did, consider this illegal. And, in order to stop it from happening, their laws are based around grabbing some of the stockbrokers’ skin – and putting in the game as well!

Take, for example, the Islamic Shariah law.

Among other things, it includes something called “gharar.” Literally, you can translate the word as “risk.” Interpreters, however, usually, define it along these lines: “the sale of a thing which is not present;” or “the sale of a thing whose consequence is not known;” or the “sale involving hazard in which one does not know whether it will come to be or not.”

Before we spend few sentences explaining this, we will kindly ask you to compare the concept of gharar to Matthew McConaughey’s legendary speech in “The Wolf of Wall Street”:

Now, back to gharar.

Taleb says that what they’re doing on Wall Street should be illegal. Because it’s based on the asymmetry of information: the seller knows much more than the buyer. And, what’s more, the seller gets the rewards; the buyer is stuck with the risks.

It’s irrelevant if the latter wins as well. What’s relevant is that, unlike him, the former can’t lose anything.

Take, for example, Bob Rubin, temporary chairman of Citigroup, and, in the dictionary of Taleb, synonym for all that’s wrong with banking executives. To quote the author, Rubin “collected more than $120 million in compensation from Citibank in the decade preceding the banking crash of 2008. When the bank, literally insolvent, was rescued by the taxpayer, he didn’t write any cheque – he invoked uncertainty as an excuse. Heads he wins, tails he shouts ‘Black Swan’.”

Interestingly enough, even though we need Taleb to point it out to us, we already know this on a gut level! That’s why we hate bankers and large corporations and consider Wall Street a den of thieves. Simply put, unlike entrepreneurs (who we think of as role models), they didn’t go all in!

Even worse: they earned their money by risking almost nothing at all! And that, even though it’s perfectly legal, is morally wrong. And should be unlawful as well!

“For social justice,” concludes Taleb, “focus on symmetry and risk sharing. You cannot make profits and transfer the risks to others, as bankers and large corporations do… Forcing skin in the game corrects this asymmetry better than thousands of laws and regulations.”

Just ask evolution!

Key Lessons from “Skin in the Game”

1.      Asymmetry Should Be Illegal
2.      Usually it’s the Minority Which Rules the Majority
3.      Oh, the Elaborate Web of Lies We Trap Ourselves Into!

Asymmetry Should Be Illegal

If you need to take one – this is the main takeaway from Nassim Taleb’s newest book: social justice should be based on the symmetry of risk and reward. In other words, people who don’t risk – and don’t have skin in the game (or: SITG, for short) – shouldn’t be allowed to reap the rewards.

Yes: we’re looking at you, stockbrokers, bankers, sales reps, CEOs, fund managers! How about doing something – with your own money first!

(On an interesting side note: here’s a real-life scenario of how should risk/reward symmetry work. When one footballer broke the leg of another, all that he got was a yellow card. A judge decided otherwise: he will be suspended until the injured player is fine and gets back on the field!

Now, that’s justice. Talebian justice, if you will.)

skin in the game pdf

Usually it’s the Minority Which Rules the Majority

Many people have advocated against the tyranny of the minority. According to Taleb, however, it’s more ubiquitous than we care to admit. And not that strange.

For example, do you know that 70% of the lamb meat in England is processed according to halal standards? And only 4% of the British population are Muslims!

Then, why is that?

Well, for the very same reason that if you have one person in your family who hates GMO, you’ll buy all of your fruits from a non-GMO market!

It is the only thing which makes sense!

Oh, the Elaborate Web of Lies We Trap Ourselves Into!

Smart rich people – says Taleb (and the evidence confirms it) – don’t usually live in large solitary mansions.

Why?

Because, obviously, everyone would enjoy more in a lively neighborhood!

However, agents trick them into buying those houses, because they have much money, and, consequently, can buy something expensive with less risk than you and me. For the same reason, the food in expensive restaurants is – prepare for it! – probably worse than the one in the cheap ones. For one, the latter can’t risk tiny portions.

So, the next time you want to spend a fortune on an expensive wine –

Fuhgeddaboudit!

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“Skin in the Game” Quotes

The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding, or better at explaining than doing. Click To Tweet What matters isn’t what a person has or doesn’t have; it is what he or she is afraid of losing. Click To Tweet Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions. Click To Tweet Alexander said that it was preferable to have an army of sheep led by a lion than an army of lions led by a sheep. Click To Tweet When young people who ‘want to help mankind’ come to me asking, ‘What should I do?’ …. my suggestion is: 1) Never engage in virtue signaling; 2) Never engage in rent-seeking; 3) You must start a business. Click To Tweet If you give an opinion, and someone follows it, you are morally obligated to be, yourself, exposed to its consequences. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Skin in the Game” is not Nassim Taleb’s best book – but, it’s certainly his “most provocative and practical” one. His idiosyncratic style – which gives him the opportunity to talk about everything from Kant to Trump – will help you understand complex ideas effortlessly – once again.

And maybe – even teach you how you can live a better and juster life!

So, we guess there’s no reason to add now that “Skin in the Game” is a must-read. Because, let’s face it, it is from the very moment you notice the name of its author!

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At Home Summary | FREE PDF |

At Home PDFA Short History of Private Life

We have already grown accustomed to reading short histories of the world told through different prisms, ranging from glasses to globalization. In fact, Britain’s most beloved foreigner Bill Bryson has authored one of those himself – our favorite, “A Short History of Nearly Everything”.

“At Home” is even homelier. Maybe because it’s about your home. A short history of it – and each of its rooms!

Who Should Read “At Home”? And Why?

Bill Bryson writes so appealingly beautiful and hilariously funny that even if he writes about boring things, you’ll enjoy reading him! And, on the face of it, “At Home” is a book about specialists interested in sociology and anthropology, general history and the history of domestic life.

However, it can also be the book best for a good night reading. Or, an early morning one, for that matter!

About Bill Bryson

Bill BrysonBill Bryson is an American-born author of travel and popular science books – but you would hardly notice the former by reading his biography. With the exception of the first twenty years of his life, Bryson has spent almost all of it in the United Kingdom. Unsurprisingly, since 2015, he holds a dual citizenship.

He became a British darling after publishing his 1995 travelogue, “Notes from a Small Island,” which was voted in 2003 by BBC listeners as the book which best represents Britain. His 1998 hit, “A Walk in the Woods,” was turned into a successful movie in 2015, and “A Short History of Nearly Everything” is often hailed as one of the most accessible scientific books for the general population.

Unsurprisingly, we included it among our top 15 history books ever written!

“At Home PDF Summary”

You think you know your house like the back of your palm?

You may be right – after all, you certainly don’t know that bats’ wings are not much different from your fingers!

We’ve already warned you once before that almost everything has evolved. Then, why should your home be any different?

And Bill Bryson’s “At Home” is an in-depth look at the evolution of every room your home has – or, at least, had at some point in history. And the only problem we have with it is that it features so many interesting stories that we have no choice but to select merely few!

So, let’s skip the great hall you don’t have – and spend some time in the kitchen you visit at least seventeen times a day; you know, to grab a snack or numerous. In other words: it’s safe to say that you’ll find your way through the kitchen even if sleepwalking!

Now, you wouldn’t even suppose that up to very recently, putting anything in your mouth while not looking carefully may have cost your life!

Really!

They call it food adulteration, and, putting it mildly, it meant consuming gypsum and sand with your sugar, chalk with your milk, and – yes! – even sulphuric acid with your vinegar. Fortunately, governments control this nowadays much better; but, unfortunately, the list of food contamination incidents is way to long to be ignored still!

Any case, it’s gotten better. A lot better!

For example, when you see a “best before” date on a certain jar, you don’t doubt its exactitude! In fact, you may even eat its contents sometime after it’s passed. Well, until a century ago, nobody in the world would dare eating anything out of a jar or a can – unless he put it there himself few days ago!

The man who first tried to change this was a French guy, Nicolas Appert. Called the “father of canning,” he was the first to introduce glass jars. That made things better in terms of conservation, but only because of the lack of alternatives. Air and bacteria still got through – and food was ultimately spoilt.

Then, an Englishman by the name of Bryan Donkin had it enough! So, he experimented a while with tin canning, and finally managed to manufacture tin iron containers which preserved food better than anything ever before.

The problem?

The food was protected not only from bacteria, but from humans too. Namely, it was almost impossible to open these containers! So much so, that some of them came with a hammer and a chisel! And, until John Landis Mason invented the metal screw-on lid, many had to be opened up by soldiers.

Yes – with guns and bayonets!

Sticking with food – let’s have a brief look at the history of your dining room! Or, better yet, at the history of one of its constant features: the salt and pepper shakers!

Now, you certainly know that without salt you’ll probably die. Intuitively, everyone knew this ever since the dawn of history. So, countries and cultures went to great lengths to secure salt. The Aztecs, for example, dried urine to make edible salt!

Pepper, however, isn’t necessary at all! However, the Romans liked it so much, that they drove its price and status so high, that nobody ever since has bothered to question its importance.

On the contrary, in fact!

In 1468, the Duke Karl of Bourgogne ordered about 400 pounds of pepper as a wedding decoration! Just to show off his wealth!

Key Lessons from “At Home”

1.      Everything You Have at Home Has a Long History
2.      Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite
3.      Dirty Much? Just Say That You Want to Be Closer to God

Everything You Have at Home Has a Long History

We are constantly aware that some of the big things we’ve inherited came by way of an ardently long evolution. However, rarely do we wonder if the same holds true about the jars in our cupboard, or the salt and pepper shakers on our dining table.

Bill Bryson has wondered in our stead. And in “At Home” he manages to tell the fascinating histories of some very small objects at our home. Just as he did when he retold us the whole history of everything big in our universe.

Good Night, Sleep Tight, Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

How many times have you heard that, right?

Sure, it sounds gentle and beautiful now – but just ask your great-great-great-great-grandparents! Because, to them, this wasn’t merely a phrase: it was a serious warning!

Because, first of all, their bed was stuffed with everything – dead or alive! And, because, secondly, bedbugs were the least of their problems! Many people, in fact, went to sleep with their shoes beside them – so that they can use them as a weapon against the little monsters in the bed.

Yes, there were rats too!

Dirty Much? Just Say That You Want to Be Closer to God

Now, for long periods of history, bed hygiene wasn’t really a priority! And that’s because – the opposite was: keeping yourself dirty.

For example, Saint Thomas Beckett and Saint Godric became saints because, well, they didn’t bathe! Dirt, the Christians believed, made them closer to nature, and with it – to its Creator, God.

Even if it’s so – we think we’ll pass.

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“At Home” Quotes

I refer of course to the soaring wonder of the age known as the Eiffel Tower. Never in history has a structure been more technologically advanced, materially obsolescent, and gloriously pointless all at the same time. Click To Tweet Even though sugar was very expensive, people consumed it till their teeth turned black, and if their teeth didn't turn black naturally, they blackened them artificially to show how wealthy and marvelously self-indulgent they were. Click To Tweet It is always quietly thrilling to find yourself looking at a world you know well but have never seen from such an angle before. Click To Tweet And it occurred to me, with the forcefulness of a thought experienced in 360 degrees, that that's really what history mostly is: masses of people doing ordinary things. Click To Tweet If a potato can produce vitamin C, why can't we? Within the animal kingdom only humans and guinea pigs are unable to synthesize vitamin C in their own bodies. Why us and guinea pigs? No point asking. Nobody knows. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

As its bibliography reveals, “At Home” is one of the many books covering the history of domestic life. However, the fact that Bill Bryson is so good with witty anecdotes and arcane facts makes this “quirky history” a joy to read. Or, as a Telegraph reviewer wrote soon after its publication, “a treasure.”

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The Omnivore’s Dilemma Summary

The Omnivore’s Dilemma pdfA Natural History of Four Meals

In a world of choice, what should you eat?

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” reveals the truth behind contemporary food production.

About Michael Pollan

Michael PollanMichael Pollan is an author, journalist and a professor at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.

“The Omnivore’s Dilemma PDF Summary”

Humans are omnivores, and as such, can eat many different animals and plants.

This capability leads to what is called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”: in a world full of choices, how do we know what is good for us to eat?

A long time ago, when people were hunters and gatherers, this dilemma did not exist: they ate whatever they could find: either seasonal foods that grew near their homes or animals they could hunt in the wild.

However, today we face a different problem.

The advancements in technology have made it easy to produce and transport food on long distances and unconnected to seasons, which makes the number of meals available to us uncountable.

Hence, the omnivore’s dilemma is stronger than ever, since we have to put thought into what we should choose for each meal we have in the day.

Some of these meals are cheap, some are taste, some are healthy, and some are environment-friendly.

So, how do we know which choice is the best for us?

Well, let us tell you the downsides of such mass-production.

Farmers can now produce food on a larger scale, for a shorter time, by using different machines and industrial-farming techniques.

Industrial farming has also made the raising of animals and meat-production incredibly easy and cheap.

And there are some people that think that this is a good thing.

But it is far from it.

To be able to grow plants in not-ideal conditions, farmers pump them up with chemicals.

And so they do the same with animals.

Nothing comes at no cost, so in the name of mass production, humanity pollutes the water and air, treats animals unethically, and spreads different diseases.

Key Lessons from “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”

1.      Why is Corn Everywhere
2.      The Conditions Animals are Raised In
3.      The Fixed Stomach Problem

Why is Corn Everywhere

America notes an immense corn surplus. There is far more corn than the population can eat, so corn is reproduced to create “hydrogenated fat” or “high fructose syrup.”

It is also used for food for farm animals.

These new uses of corn prove very profitable for the industry.

The Conditions Animals are Raised In

Animals are kept in unethical conditions, which they can bear to survive only by being pumped with antibiotics.

However, overusing antibiotics can lead to the creation of superbugs which are antibiotic-resistant, which could be a threat to humanity as well.

The Fixed Stomach Problem

The biggest problem of the industry is the fixed stomach problem.

In other words, people have a limited capability of eating, and to grow the industry needs to find a way either people to eat more than that or to spend more on the same amount of food.

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“The Omnivore’s Dilemma” Quotes

The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways… Click To Tweet So that's us: processed corn, walking. Click To Tweet Were the walls of our meat industry to become transparent, literally or even figuratively, we would not long continue to raise, kill, and eat animals the way we do. Click To Tweet When chickens get to live like chickens, they'll taste like chickens, too. Click To Tweet But that's the challenge -- to change the system more than it changes you. Click To Tweet

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The Road to Serfdom Summary

The Road to Serfdom Summary

Back in 1944, many people around the planet believed that socialism is the road to freedom and equality. Friedrich Hayek begged to differ. As far as he was concerned, socialism was not that different from fascism. And if it trod any road – it trod “The Road to Serfdom.”

About Friedrich August von Hayek

Friedrich August von HayekFriedrich August von Hayek was an Austrian-British economist and philosopher, one of the most famous proponents of classical liberalism and libertarianism in the 20th century. In 1974, he won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, sharing it with Swedish economist Gunnar Myrdal.

A Fellow of the British Academy, in 1984 Hayek became a member of the Order of the Companions of Honour. That same year he also became the first recipient of the Hanns Martin Schleyer Prize.

He is widely considered one of the greatest economists in history.

“The Road to Serfdom Summary”

After five years of devastation and dread, 1944 was a year of hope. The Russians finally managed to gain momentum against Nazi Germany on the East, and the D-Day was about to seal Hitler’s destiny on the Western front.

However, Austrian-British economist Friedrich Hayek wasn’t in such a jubilant mood. As far as he was concerned, the battle had merely begun. Because what had happened to Germany in the decade before Hitler was now about to happen to the world.

It just had a different name now: socialism. And it was embraced by millions.

Now, having the luxury of hindsight, you would think that Hayek is probably speaking about Eastern European countries, right?

Guess again!

Hayek was afraid because he thought that he had noticed a strange and unsettling pattern. And it had two threads.

The first one was the striking similarity between socialism and Nazism. Most of the intellectuals at the time believed that Nazism arose as a reaction of the upper classes against the socialism of the lower classes.

After all, Nazis came to power after blaming the communists for the Reichstag fire in 1933! And they considered the Soviet Union their arch-nemesis.

Irrelevant, said Hayek!

Because both Nazism and socialism can exist only when the state has total control of the means of production and propaganda. And that’s the most frightening part.

You see, Hayek believed that after the First World War, in an attempt to respond to the monetary crisis, the social democrats in Germany increased the state control of the economy. And, inadvertently, paved the way for Hitler.

And that’s the second thread Hayek noticed. The one which, to him, seemed even worse than the first one. Namely, that Western economies, at the time, were not much different than the economy of Germany between the wars.

Remember?

Most of the Western countries alleviated the effects of the Great Depression using Keynesian methods. And they worked! But, in a nutshell, that meant that the governments started bailing out the private companies by spending money they didn’t have.

And it also meant that the people, whether in US or UK, started believing their governments more.

“We,” wrote Hayek, “have in effect undertaken to dispense with the forces which produced unforeseen results and to replace the impersonal and anonymous mechanism of the market by collective and ‘conscious’ direction of all social forces to deliberately chosen goals.”

If that’s a complicated and long sentence for you – don’t worry: we’ll break it down!

Namely, Hayek claims that, just like evolution, the free markets may be unpredictable, but in time result in increasing the wealth of the nations. Central planning is much more predictable – but, in his opinion, a thousand times more dangerous.

Why?

Because, for one, it’s hypocritical.

It claims that it works for the liberty of everyone, when, in fact, there’s no way that it can ever be instituted in such manner in a democratic society.

Even if a large majority supports it, the minority which doesn’t will have to be violently forced to give up its private ownings – for the greater good. However – and this is even worse – that greater good has to be consciously decided by a group of people.

In 1921, describing the inevitability of class struggle, Lenin asked “Who, whom?” implicitly jumping over the verb “overtakes.” Two decades later, Hayek responded with the same question. In his opinion, however, the original verb was wrong. It should have been “rules.”

There’s no socialist society or a welfare state Hayek is able to envision where the answer to that question is “the best.” At the top of the government, instead of the benevolent philosophers of Plato, Hayek sees – echoing John Stuart Mill – a tyrannical minority, a group of oppressors who’ll use propaganda, conformity and scapegoats to remain in power.

His solution?

Individualist morality, an economy based on free markets, and an almost total abolishment of governmental control.

And, in more than one way, Hayek was right. What he had predicted, happened in almost all communist countries of the Eastern bloc. However, if we’re completely honest, he was also wrong on at least two accounts.

First of all, the Western democracies didn’t become socialist totalitarian states. And, more importantly, many social welfare states – such as the Scandinavian countries – didn’t end up being totalitarian. On the contrary, in fact, they ended up being freer.

So, maybe the middle path is the right path?

Key Lessons from “The Road to Serfdom”

1.      Socialism and Nazism Are Both Threats to Individual Freedom
2.      The State Is the Ultimate Monopoly
3.      But the State Has to Do At Least Something

Socialism and Nazism Are Both Threats to Individual Freedom

Even though they were fierce enemies at the world’s stage of the 20th century, to Hayek, socialism and Nazism were pretty much the same; and, much more importantly, they were both enemies of humanity in general.

Why?

Because both defended collective values before individualistic. And because, in doing that, they were preparing the path to a complete elimination of liberty.

The State Is the Ultimate Monopoly

One of the worst things people fear in a free market economy is the possibility of a monopoly. Because, in that case you’re at the mercy of a single entity. However, what should you do in the case when the monopoly is not a company ­– but the whole state?

As Hayek writes: “while the last resort of a competitive economy is the bailiff, the ultimate sanction of a planned economy is the hangman.”

But the State Has to Do At Least Something

Hayek’s words are often taken to mean that libertarian society – one in which the role of the government is virtually non-existent – is the best possible society. However, it’s important to note that he thinks that there’s no such thing as a society without some state control.

In fact, here’s a sentence taken straight out of his book: “no system that could be rationally defended would the state just do nothing.”

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“The Road to Serfdom” Quotes

Probably it is true enough that the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of… Click To Tweet Our freedom of choice in a competitive society rests on the fact that, if one person refuses to satisfy our wishes, we can turn to another. But if we face a monopolist we are at his absolute mercy. Click To Tweet One need not be a prophet to be aware of impending dangers. An accidental combination of experience and interest will often reveal events to one man under aspects which few yet see. Click To Tweet Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism. Click To Tweet To act on behalf of a group seems to free people of many of the moral restraints which control their behaviour as individuals within the group. Click To Tweet

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