Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


The prime rate, deregulation, monetarism, the balance of payments—daily our newspapers are awash with such issues. But how well do we understand them? Striking a Balance: Making National Economic Policy, by Albert Rees (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 118 pp., $12.50) is designed to help the non-expert better understand these concepts and the policy debates that surround them.

In Beyond Monetarism: Finding the Road to Stable Money (New York: Basic Books, 288 pp., $16.95), Marc Miles, a pioneer in "supply-side" economics, enters the debate over how to stabilize the value of money. Writing for both the layman and the professional, Miles criticizes the so-called monetarists (such as Milton Friedman), who seek to stabilize prices and interest rates by controlling the amount of money in circulation.

Two more-specialized economic works deserve mention: New Directions in Economic Justice (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 231 pp., $20.95/$10.95), edited by Roger Skurski, includes original essays by scholars from different disciplines who analyze the concepts of economic and social justice and try to link them to current economic problems. The essays, including ones by individualist-oriented David Norton and public-choice theorist James Buchanan, present a wide array of viewpoints. The Long Wave Cycle (New York: Richardson & Snyder, 138 pp., $30), by Nicholas Kondratieff, is the first translation into English of this classic Russian work detailing a controversial theory of inevitable long-term business cycles. Kondratieff's work, lauded by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s, strongly suggests that government intervention in an economy cannot prevent recessions and depressions as promised by the theories of John Maynard Keynes.

Defense issues are at least as controversial as economic ones. More Bucks, Less Bang: How the Pentagon Buys Ineffective Weapons (Washington, D.C.: Fund for Constitutional Government, 341 pp., $6.95 paper), edited by REASON contributor Dina Rasor, collects together popularly written but informed articles on the weapons bureaucracy. Defining Defense: The 1985 Military Budget (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, 46 pp., $3.95 paper), by Earl C. Ravenal, reassesses "American security in an uncontrollable world" from a noninterventionist perspective.

International political risk assessment has long been almost exclusively the province of government agencies such as the CIA. Over the past few years, that situation has begun to change, with private consultants offering risk-assessment services mainly to businesses that have overseas operations. Reflecting that trend, Global Risk Assessments: Issues, Concepts, and Applications, Book / (Riverside, Calif.: Global Risk Assessments, Inc., 175 pp., $24.95) is the first of a series of books that will focus on concepts and case studies in political risk assessment in the field of international business.

To turn to the home front, two issues repeatedly capture our attention: crime and education. Crime Free: Stop Your Chances of Being Robbed, Raped, Mugged, or Burglarized by 90 Percent (New York: Simon & Schuster, 239 pp., $16.95), by Michael Castleman, is more than a comprehensive self-help book on crime prevention. It also presents substantive research on crime that shatters some frequently held beliefs about, for example, the relationships between crime and gun control, television violence, and poverty.

On the subject of education, the benefits of home schooling are recounted in Better Than School (Burdett, N.Y.: Larson, 256 pp., $14.95), by Nancy Wallace.

Frances Kendall goes beyond the issue of schooling to discuss child-rearing in general in Super Parents—Super Children (Johannesburg, South Africa: Delta Books, available through Laissez-Faire Books in New York City, 155 pp., $12.95 paper). Kendall's prescriptions are based on a perspective that seeks to foster mutual respect and individualism, rather than an authoritarian relationship between child and parent. Considering another issue about children, Mind and Media: The Effects of Television, Video Games, and Computers (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 210 pp., $4.95 paper), by Patricia Marks Greenfield, contests the oft-held view that video games, television, and computers stifle true learning and contribute to illiteracy.

For readers interested in philosophy, two REASON contributors examine some fundamental philosophical questions. Antony Flew looks at arguments regarding the existence of God and notions of free will, among other topics, in God, Freedom, and Immortality (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 183 pp., $8.95). And in Gewirth's Ethical Rationalism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 268 pp., $30/$12.50), Edward Regis collects contributions by philosophers discussing the ideas of Alan Gewirth, who initiated the last two decades' philosophical resurrection of the possibility of knowledge about right and wrong. Contributors to the volume include REASON authors and associates Eric Mack, Douglas Den Uyl, Tibor Machan, and James Hill.