Book Hints

A selective mention of books received for review


Investment newsletters have been an influential and intriguing phenomenon of the financial world for several decades now. Business writer Peter Brimelow presents a witty survey of these newsletters—and the sometimes brilliant, sometimes bizarre personalities behind them—in The Wall Street Gurus (N.Y.: Random House, 238 pp., $19.95).

Meanwhile, if you're thinking of starting your own business, Entrechic: The Mega-Guide to Entrepreneurial Excellence, by C.E. Crimmins (N.Y.: Amacom, 143 pp., $6.95 paper) offers hilarious advice on how to get started and keep on going in business. It is, by the way, unchic to raise seed capital by selling sperm or vital organs, playing the violin outside theaters, playing the lottery, advertising in the back of Arabic magazines, or going on game shows.

But seriously, folks, also on the subject of entrepreneurship is The Start-Up Entrepreneur, by this month's author (see page 44) James R. Cook (N.Y.: Truman Talley Books, 306 pp., $18.95). This business start-up cookbook offers sober advice and encouragement to would-be entrepreneurs.

We all know that staying in business requires turning a profit. And a lot of people think that the most unethical business is likely the most profitable. But good ethics is good business, according to David Freudberg, who draws on dozens of interviews with business leaders and experts in The Corporate Conscience (N.Y.: Amacom, 248 pp., $18.95) to reach this conclusion.

Meanwhile, the moral and ethical soundness of modern corporate business operations is debated by authors of diverse perspectives in Corporations and the Common Good, edited by Robert B. Dickie and Leroy S. Rouner (Notre Dame, Ind.: Notre Dame Press, 160 pp., $16.95).

Butler Shaffer moves beyond a focus on corporate institutions to look at modern institutions in general. In Calculated Chaos (San Francisco: Alchemy Books, 338 pp., $10.95 paper), he advances the novel thesis that our modern institutions, with their organizational hierarchies, rules, and regulations, generate social conflict.

Discrimination—the extent to which it exists and what to do about it—remains a pivotal policy concern in the '80s. In the workforce, allegations of sexual discrimination have given rise to appeals for "equal pay for equal worth." Jennifer Roback criticizes this notion of comparable worth as inimical to the cause of women's economic advancement in A Matter of Choice (N.Y.: Twentieth Century Fund, 53 pp., $7.00 paper).

Those inclined to ponder life's complexities might try The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, by John Barron and Frank J. Tipler (N.Y.: Oxford University Press, 706 pp., $29.95). If you can move past the mouthful of a title to the pages within, you'll find some fascinating analysis here on, for example, the notion of spontaneous order in the market and society, the long-term potential for creating wealth, and the relationship between technology and economic freedom. Great stuff here for the dedicated reader.

Arthur Hogue's Origins of the Common Law, first published in 1966 and now made available by Liberty Press (Indianapolis, 272 pp., $10/$4.50), provides a historical discussion of English common law and social order. D.F.B. Tucker's Law, Liberalism and Free Speech (Totowa, N.J.: Rowman & Allanheld, 212 pp., $32.50/$13.50) tackles ever-prominent issues pertaining to freedom of speech—are there legitimate principles for restricting or denying freedom of speech? The author argues for using a framework of individual rights—as opposed to social utility—as a basis for examining these issues.

Finally, a note to aspiring economists or professors searching for a basic economics text that will keep students awake—and informed: try David (son of Milton) Friedman's Price Theory (Cincinnati: South-Western Publishing, 560 pp., $23.95). Yes, all the basic economic theory is here, but the text is sprinkled with gems that inject a little humor into the process of learning economics, gems like Friedman's Law for Finding Men's Washrooms or his Rotten Kid Theorem.