Most O'Rourke fans (and enemies) of my acquaintance had the same opinion on this one: worth reading, but far from a favourite. He's political (as usual), witty (as usual), but the old formula is getting a little tired.
His chapters on "Good Socialism" (Sweden) and "Bad Socialism" (Cuba) are a little too telling -- the book is written with what is now a jaundiced, stale, yet unwavering political opinion. He really doesn't like Socialism, no matter how little he can find wrong with Sweden. The idea of 'Eurosclerosis' is foremost on his mind -- since he can find a statistic with a higher debt as per cent of GDP for Sweden than the United States, Socialism is obviously a mess. Putting this sort of nonsense on a page next to one that notes the longer life expectancy and lower infant mortality rates (as compared to the US) makes O'Rourke come off more as the aging windbag drunk rather than the erudite wit he aspires to be.
That nastiness aside, it's still a good romp (as usual): "Manners were worse in the USSR [before 1991]...Plus, half the people were drunk -- a thrashing, helpless, hello-coma kind of inebriation I saw almost nowhere on this trip except occasionally in the mirror." While I may object to its biases at times, O'Rourke (or somebody working for him) does his homework, and he's been at it for long enough to have some useful background under his belt.
There is some education that comes with "Eat the Rich," particularly some extremely amusing attempts to explain Wall Street. It's one that an Economics major would snigger at, but who wants to remain an Econ major? The inability to make sense of any economic system is an appealing premise, even if it does shoot down the dust jacket's hype of the book as 'ambitious.'
"Eat the Rich" is recommended, though I would sooner loan a friend my copy of "Parliament of Whores." Buy it, but only at a discount.
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K. Mennie (kmennie)
Oct 27, 2010
Nov 23, 2010 02:45 PM UTC
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Written by an American humorist, this global economics primer examines the effectiveness of the economic models employed by the United States, Albania, Sweden, Cuba, Russia, Tanzania, and Hong Kong. A New York Times Notable Book for 1998.