I’ve finished a careful reading of James C. Scott’s really fascinating, deeply insightful (and occasionally oddly not-very-insightful) book The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia. I’ll be reviewing it shortly.
I also read a few other books lately, including Malcolm Gladwell’s really fun Outliers: The Story of Success. His writing is so elegant and enjoyable that you have to catch yourself and not be swept away into his conclusions just because of the sheer pleasure of the reading. (I was not convinced of several of his points, notably the discussion of the relationship between intelligence, achievement, and “threshold effects,” especially on pp. 77-90. He might be right, but I was not convinced. The other material on the role of sheer luck in having access to opportunities, however, was quite persuasive.) Another very pleasurable book on luck that I’ve been reading in little bits of down-time standing in lines and the like (but haven’t finished yet) is Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.*
Besides some other works I’m working through, I’m hoping to get through Ian Carter’s A Measure of Freedom, which should be helpful for a project on the development of metrics of liberty.
*I admit that I bought the Gladwell and Taleb books from a street cart in Shanghai. I rather suspect that they are pirated editions, which I find dodgy, so I considered (for a few seconds) sending small payments to the authors and to their publishers, but decided instead that I’d buy clearly non-pirated editions in the US.