Archive | December 2010

Spook Country by William Gibson

Source: purchased from Borders

Spook Country is a novel that blends every day technology with a cutting edge use into an underworld lurking just beyond the surface of everyday life.  I think Gibson’s aim in this novel is to show the reader a new world, a spook country, that exists in and interacts in the everyday world, but which most people are completely unaware of. The world this story is set in is our world, but it isn’t at the same time. It is the seedy, steamy side that we don’t see in our every day lives. A world that probably doesn’t exist in real life the same way it manifests in fiction and movies, yet we are all addicted to this high-energy, exciting world of crime and mystery. Gibson is a master at weaving technology into this setting, making it a vital part of it, and he does it without alienating the non-techy reader, yet without boring the technically savvy. Into this setting Gibson pulls Hollis Henry, an ex-rock star turned freelance journalist to whom this world is as strange as it is to the reader. Hollis finds herself employed by a magazine called Node which may or may not actually exist, on assignment to write about an emerging new art form called locative art. She is charged with finding a pioneer in the “production” of this art form, Bobby Chombo. Parallel to Hollis’ story is the story of Milgrim, a junkie (and translator of rare Russian dialects) held captive by Brown, some sort of intelligence agent, who is chasing an information smuggler named Tito who is part of a Chinese-Cuban crime family operating out of New York.

I think Gibson does an excellent job creating spook country, and bringing it to life. I don’t think the story line was the main point of this novel, I think the point is to illustrate the [possible] existence of spook country, and it’s relationship to everyday life through the cutting edge use of everyday technologies like GPS. In this respect, this novel was amazingly well done.

I found myself page-turning from the very beginning, maybe as much to find out how the multiple story lines could possibly be connected as to find out where it was all going. Gibson has a way of drawing the reader into the story while hardly giving any facts about what is going on until the very end. I page turned until the last few pages, and this is where the problem comes in. After I first finished reading, I felt the ending to be a bit weak, which was very disappointing to me. I felt there were a lot of loose ends not tied up, and a general lack of resolution and explanation of the main story line. It felt to me as if Gibson was rushed to end an otherwise fantastic tale. And as a reader I felt like I invested a lot of time into something that just dropped off the edge of a cliff. Yet I still can’t say that I wouldn’t recommend this novel, because I feel like the ending, or rather the lack thereof, was meant to facilitate the knowledge that “real” life goes on, right next to life in spook country, and all the action, and all the grit doesn’t even cause a ripple on the surface of what most of us perceive in our surroundings. And that, is what the author was after in the first place, isn’t it?

** I read and reviewed this book by my own choice and was not asked to do so by the author or publisher.

End The Fed by Ron Paul


General Subject Matter: Economic Policy

Theme: The effects of central banking on an economy

Thesis: Because central banking destroys the value of currency, and eventually leads to nationalization and loss of individual liberties, the federal reserve should be abolished.

Source: purchased from

End the Fed is written by eleven term congressman and 2008 presidential candidate Ron Paul, whom many consider to be the leader of today’s Libertarian/Austrian Economic movement. Congressman Paul is a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus, and various economic, financial, and foreign affairs committees and sub-committees. Congressman Paul is also a physician who served as an Air Force flight surgeon and had his own practice before entering congress.

In this book, Congressman Paul tackles the daunting task of explaining why he feels the Federal Reserve should be abolished. Many who are not familiar with the Liberty and Austrian Economic movements would think this idea is preposterous. Without the Federal Reserve, how would our economy function? End the Fed is Ron Paul’s answer to this question.

The book starts out with an explanation of why the reader should be concerned about the federal reserve, and then moves into a more detailed description of this shadowy entity that holds so much power. Congressman Paul then goes on to introduce those people and experiences in his life that helped shape his economic ideas. This is really great for people who are interested in Liberty and Austrian Economics, and want to do more research. It really gives the reader an idea of where to begin looking. After this, the topic of central banking and the damage the federal reserve causes to the US economy are fleshed out through Congressman Paul’s accounts of recent history, personal interviews with fed chairmen, and congressional experiences. Finally, the book transitions to explaining the philosophical, constitutional, economic, and libertarian arguments for ending the fed, and explores what we as American citizens need to do in order to return our country to sound money and economic stability.

Congressman Paul uses a laid back and conversational tone in his writing that is inviting and relaxing. Those who don’t usually read non-fiction because it is “too dense” will find the informal tone of this book easy to read. It is more like listening to Ron Paul tell a story than reading an informational book, although the reader will gather a lot of information from this reading. I think this approach is also less intimidating for those who are new to the topic of economics.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the ideas behind Austrian Economics, or anyone who wants to learn more about Ron Paul’s political ideas.  It is a great starting point for readers who are new to the idea of economics and central banking because it presents the ideas in an easy to read, easy to understand format, and offers many ideas on where to gather more information either via the footnotes, or Dr. Paul’s “name dropping” within the chapters, or from the suggested reading section in the back of the book (broken down into beginner, intermediate, advanced, and bonus reading subsections). Furthermore, those who are already well versed in Austrian Economics and Libertarian ideas will still benefit from reading this book, because it will help them to develop a less academic, more down to earth way of discussing this topic with others.

If you are not interested in Austrian Economics or Ron Paul, I would only recommend this book if you are writing a persuasive piece and are looking for a source to help you understand the other side of the argument (in order to be more persuasive against it of course).  This would be a great starting point for you.

** I read and reviewed this book by my own choice and was not asked to do so by the author or publisher.


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