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  • The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money

  • By: John Maynard Keynes
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 14 hrs and 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 5

First published in 1936, Keynes’ ideas had evolved during the difficulties following World War 1 in Europe, and the US crash and the Depression of the 1920s-'30s and the misery of mass unemployment. He deplored the situation where a few individuals or companies stored massive wealth while vast numbers experienced poverty and insecurity (his alarm bells ring today!) and sought to promote initiatives where governments could intervene with social projects to keep money fluctuating.  

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Jargon and Vision

  • By Amazon Customer on 16-02-19

Jargon and Vision

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-02-19

Brilliant yet obscure; competent yet dilettantesque; visionary yet misguided... There is a lot to unpack in The General Theory.

The book is written with a heavy-handed jargon that freely mixes established economic terminology with Keynes's own innovations. I am firmly of the opinion that technical jargon and mathematical expression are important servants of economic analysis that should never be allowed to become masters. In Keynes's case, the consequence of the style is not clarity, but a needlessly frustrating reading experience.

Nonethless, the book also contains lucid sections and even a few inspiring and rhetorically powerful sections. This book is a real treasure trove of powerful quotations that distil important but counterintuitive ideas.

And speaking of counterintuitive, let me briefly talk about the contents (without any attempt to summarize the main arguments or to do justice to the pros and cons).

Aside from the obvious impact on trade cycle theory and depression management, the real strength of the book, in my opinion, is that it dares to go against the flow, to swim against the current, in so many crucial respects: 1) By positing a difference between the micro and the macro, and showing how the laws of the first need not operate on the second (and vice versa); 2) By denying the folk wisdom of "a penny saved is a penny earned" and the classical economic wisdom of household frugality (austerity) as a guide to sound fiscal policy under certain macro conditions. 3) By resuscitating numerous occasionally valuable heterodox theories, such as the theory of underconsumption (under the guise of aggregate demand management) and the Sentimentalist-Scottish-Mandevillean emphasis on the dark psychology of capitalism (under the guise of propensity to consume, animal spirits, etc). 4) And by mixing some fresh insights of psychology, probability theory, and complexity theory, with the classical insights of economics (although in a rudimentary way).

That said, there are severe problems with Keynes's theory - both in the pure formulation and in the impure application. The central notions of aggregate demand, the marginal efficiency of capital, the propensity to consume, full employment, the Kahn multiplier, etc., all seem to break down under careful scrutiny. The whole distinction between micro and macro might have been a big mistake. At the very least, the applicability of Keynesian concepts is much more tenuous and limited than might be supposed by the lofty title of a "General Theory."

But whatever the failings of the Keynesian enterprise (there goes one star!) and whatever the failings of the obscure prose (and there goes another!), the book is a rare achievement in two respects: in innovation and inspiration. It is impossible not to be delighted and impressed by the amount of valuable insights and out-of-the-box thinking contained herein.

The cute party trick of being a perennial contrarian seems less impressive when it leads to intellectual error and bad policy (both of which have been the occasional consequence of the General Theory). And the muddied terminology of Keynesian macroeconomics is a needless swamp. But the diversification and improvement of science - and social progress itself - is built upon the work of people who dare to be wrong in an enlightening way.

  • Hume's Dialogues

  • By: David Hume
  • Narrated by: Ray Childs
  • Length: 4 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion had not yet been published when he died in 1776. Even though the manuscript was mostly written during the 1750s, it did not appear until 1779. The subject itself was too delicate and controversial, and Hume's dialectical examination of religious knowledge was especially provocative. What should we teach young people about religion? The characters Demea, Cleanthes, and Philo passionately present and defend three sharply different answers to that question.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Delightful skepticism

  • By Amazon Customer on 07-02-19

Delightful skepticism

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-02-19

Anybody who doesn't appreciate Hume doesn't appreciate philosophy. His dialogues are entertaining and insightful, and they are a good introduction to Hume's style and thought.

The dialogues exhibit the typical Humean combination of technically proficient but also commonsensical arguments. Hume methodically dispels the haughty aura of self-declared experts in the ivory tower by appealing to the intuitions and the common sense of ordinary people. (In this there are strong echoes of Plato's dialogues.) But he simultaneously, and miraculously, avoids the trap of being caught up in the superstitions and logical fallacies of the uneducated mind.

Hume's skeptical agnosticism, while not as radical as the atheistic materialism of Hobbes or Lucretius, carried out the death sentence of theism and abstract theology. The arguments are rhetorically powerful and framed in a fashion that respects the intelligence of the reader. Religious philosophy has never recovered.

The only thing that drags the dialogues down is the passage of time. They seem partially outdated in the Western world, where Humean skepticism has become fashionable. The even more radical Marxist atheism and New Atheism have seemingly overtaken Humeanism. At the same time, advances in cosmology and biology have rendered some of the scientific speculations in the dialogues moot. But I'm sure Hume would appreciate those things, since he was a fan of radical thinking and science.

And in some ways these new developments have strayed from Hume's teachings. The spirit of Humean skepticism is a precious civilizational heirloom whose true value is easily forgotten by the younger generations. The skeptical attitude has too often been lost in the exuberant hubris of Enlightenment, Marxist, New Atheist, or physicalist-scientistic dogmatism.

Only a perpetual recursion back to Hume can save the critical spirit of humanity from succumbing to the dark nemesis of its own creation: the dogmatic certainty of belief.

  • The Conquest of Bread

  • By: Pyotr Kropotkin
  • Narrated by: Peter Kenny
  • Length: 7 hrs and 30 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

In The Conquest of Bread, first published in 1892, Kropotkin set out his ideas on how his heightened idealism could work. It was all the more extraordinary because he was born into an aristocratic land-owning family - with some 1,200 male serfs - though from his student years his liberal views and his fixation on the need for social change saw him take a revolutionary path. This led rapidly to decades of exile. It is a passionate, even a fierce polemic for dramatic social change. 

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Inspiring but outdated

  • By Amazon Customer on 03-02-19

Inspiring but outdated

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-02-19

This book is a mixed bag. On the one hand, many of its prophecies feel outdated. On the other hand, some of them feel incredibly prescient.

The central message that the right to wellbeing ("bread") should be guaranteed to all people irrespective of their labour contribution jives well with contemporary debates around Universal Basic Income. Whether or not anarcho-communism is the best form of implementing UBI is up for debate. I agree that anarchism of SOME kind needs to be involved, but, contrary to what Kropotkin would say, I think that a healthy dose of voluntary market transactions need to be included.

Kropotkin, like Marx, wrote on the cusp of the marginal revolution in economics whose insights he failed to appreciate. Like Marx, his economic theory is still unfortunately stuck on 19th century utopian economlc theory. This shows e.g. in Kropotkin's fetishistic celebration of local production over global trade, his opposition to voluntary wage labour and voluntary private property, his criticism of "luxury" good production over the production of "necessities," his failure to appreciate the deep incentive problems of (voluntaristic) communism, etc.

Unlike Marx, however, he correctly foresaw the dangers of collectivism and centralized state socialism. He brilliantly extols the virtues of self-organization from the bottom-up as the only viable means of achieving the collective ownership and distribution of social wealth and the means of production. He is thereby an important theorist of libertarian socialism.

At the same time, his call for the spontaneous bottom-up expropriation of bourgeois property in a sudden orgy of proletarian revolution is naive in its faith in the common man and the distributive wisdom of the masses. His most ardent speeches are full of economic, psychological, and sociological blind spots based on an ignorance of the best science of his day. I'm afraid they invalidate many of his most optimistic proclamations about utopian communism. In particular, there are many red flags (pun intended) in his treatment of the problem of organizing work and production in the absence of private property and its system of incentives (of reward and punishment). He simply cannot offer solid empirical or theoretical reasons for his speculative predictions.

The supposed anarcho-communist paradise of everflowing milk and honey is an elusive goal that suffers from numerous self-contradictions and avoidable scientific errors. How can a voluntary order be built upon a forceful expropriation of private property? How can self-interest be expelled without the policeman, the torture chamber, and the Gulag? But the core insights are still relevant today, e.g. on the dangers of statism, the need to deliver the bounty of surplus production to all, the unforeseeable possibilities of human liberation in the age of cooperative plenty, etc.

In the future, I believe the only rational choice social organization faces is between anarcho-communism and anarcho-capitalism. Statism has failed. It is time for the left and the right to move on to greener pastures, i.e. the Elysian fields of libertarian self-organization.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Mind of the Market

  • Compassionate Apes, Competitive Humans and Other Tales from Evolutionary Economics
  • By: Michael Shermer
  • Narrated by: Michael Shermer
  • Length: 5 hrs and 26 mins
  • Abridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 4

The Mind of the Market will change the way we think about the economics of everyday life. Drawing on research from neuroeconomics, Michael Shermer explores what brain scans reveal about bargaining, snap purchases, and how trust is established in business. Utilizing experiments in behavioral economics, Shermer shows why people hang on to losing stocks and failing companies, why business negotiations often disintegrate into emotional tit-for-tat disputes, and why money does not make us happy.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Good ideas in a middling package

  • By Amazon Customer on 01-02-19

Good ideas in a middling package

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-02-19

Like a good meal nearly ruined by a bad ingredient, it is frustrating to see good ideas delivered in a middling package. Shermer's skeptical optimism is firmly rooted in cutting-edge social and natural sciences. Many of his detractors are shocked by his unapologetic defence of free market capitalism, and it does sound occasionally starry-eyed. But he backs up his arguments with good evidence, especially when discussing the economic dimensions of behavioural, neuro- and social psychology.

The problem lies not with the contents, but with the structure of the book. Did the editor sleep on the job? The chapters are loosely connected ruminations on various topics without a strong, overarching narrative. They rehash latest popular science articles, which is fine, but they also recycle his own earlier books. And, by the end, you are left wondering, "That was it?"

Overall, I enjoyed the audiobook, thanks to the author's snappy narration, the abridged format, and the fascinating barrage of popular science trivia. Shermer's position is a strong and important one. But this book does not do it justice. It feels like a competent but forgettable cash grab for the airport lounge market.

  • The Entrepreneurial State

  • By: Mariana Mazzucato
  • Narrated by: Amy Finegan
  • Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 4

According to conventional wisdom, innovation is best left to the dynamic entrepreneurs of the private sector, and government should get out of the way. But what if all this was wrong? What if, from Silicon Valley to medical breakthroughs, the public sector has been the boldest and most valuable risk taker of all?

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Innovation and exaggeration

  • By Amazon Customer on 28-01-19

Innovation and exaggeration

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-01-19

Mazzucato's book flips the narrative about the dynamic and innovative private sector on its head. It argues that the entrepreneurial state has been, and should continue to be, a vital player "not only in fixing markets, but in creating them."

The book applies the neo-Schumpeterian insights of evolutionary economics and innovation research to argue for a state-centric viewpoint on how innovation breaks new ground. Mazzucato correctly points out that radical innovation is subject to uncertain risks and rewards, and the initial risky investment for it is often hard to come buy in the private sector.

For Mazzucato, the short-sighted and risk-averse preferences of private venture capitalists prevent them from acting as the guardians of systemic long-term innovation. This allegedly means that the only reliable source of funding for technoindustrial revolutions comes from the deep and risk-loving pockets of governments.

There is much to admire in and agree with Mazzucato's thesis. The government clearly can play an important role in fostering innovation. In particular, although narrowly USA-centric, the book's history lesson is an important reality check. It highlights the contributions of various government-backed research institutions, such as Bell Labs, DARPA, the NIH, and NASA, to the growth and development of new technologies (and subsequently new markets). It also raises the important question of who should reap (privatise) the benefits of such distributed innovation.

That said, the book reads too one-sided. It does not properly explain the dangers of relying on heavy-handed and tax-funded government investment, nor the potential benefits of developing non-coercive and bottom-up alternatives to them. Many such arguments come from the very same evolutionary economics and innovation research literature that Mazzucato uses to cherry-pick the conclusions that support her argument. Her conclusions are therefore inadequate and undersupported by the available data.

Secondly, it fallaciously argues from the historical fact that the big government has played an important role in innovation research to the normative conclusion that a big government is therefore an indispensable part of all future innovation research. It could be that innovation research tends to take place in universities and research labs, whether or not these are tax-funded or privately funded. She 1) fails to consider how government has crowded out non-governmental alternatives; 2) conflates any government involvement with how the government should get credit for everything done with its (major or minor) help; 3) and completely ignores the possibility of charitable or privately funded institutes that are not driven by the profit motive but modelled on not-for-profit principles, such as the old Oxbridge model of research excellence based on the disinterested pursuit of knowledge.

Overall, Mazzucato's broader case falters on selective scholarship and rhetorical hyperbole. The weaker thesis about the historical and continued importance of government finance in fostering innovation remains valid, however. When combined with a more nuanced recognition of the pitfalls of government involvement in its myriad forms, and a better recognition of the need for the private sector as a system of innovation, the innovation systems perspective can play an important role in guiding public policy discussions going forward.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Seeing Like a State

  • By: James C. Scott
  • Narrated by: Michael Kramer
  • Length: 16 hrs and 6 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 5

Why do well-intentioned plans for improving the human condition go tragically awry? Author James C. Scott analyzes failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. Centrally managed social plans misfire, Scott argues, when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not - and cannot - be fully understood. Further, the success of designs for social organization depends upon the recognition that local, practical knowledge is as important as formal, epistemic knowledge.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent Book

  • By Amazon Customer on 20-02-19

Once seen, can it be unseen?

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 16-01-19

Scott's book is a monumental paean to anarchist and anti-hierarchical wisdom. Although it stretches and extends across multiple disciplines - agriculture, forestry, city planning, industrial organization, etc. - it manages to weave them into a surprisingly coherent and compelling narrative.

The key boogeymen are the predictable (and sometimes unpredictable) shortcomings of technocratic hubris. Scott amply documents, mostly from primary sources, how such hubris has been a defining feature of modernistic statecraft - from Le Corbusier to Lenin.

The takeaway message of the book is that the preservation of bottom-up experimentation, and the harnessing of local knowhow, should inform all sustainable central planning. You should let cities and communities evolve on their own, rather than imposing a system of conformity.

The end result is an eye-opening, powerful narrative about the excesses of human optimism. All utopian schemers should read this book. They should think twice about the consequences of their actions - lest they risk becoming the supervillains of tomorrow.

  • The Infidel and the Professor

  • David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought
  • By: Dennis C. Rasmussen
  • Narrated by: Keith Sellon-Wright
  • Length: 10 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Vividly written, The Infidel and the Professor is a compelling account of a great friendship of two towering Enlightenment thinkers that had great consequences for modern thought. David Hume is widely regarded as the most important philosopher ever to write in English, but during his lifetime, he was attacked as "the Great Infidel" for his skeptical religious views and deemed unfit to teach the young. In contrast, Adam Smith was a revered professor of moral philosophy and is now often hailed as the founding father of capitalism.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Intimate sympathy

  • By Amazon Customer on 28-10-18

Intimate sympathy

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-10-18

The friendship between Adam Smith and David Hume is one of the great Platonic love stories in the history of philosophy. The book unearths an intimate array of correspondences that offers a compelling narrative that works on two levels: 1) The human sympathy between two human beings who happened to share a soul connection. 2) The literary connection between two great iconoclastic Enlightenment thinkers.

There is very much to be learned from these inestimable writers, not least on matters of fact and speculation, but also on how to maintain a friendship across periods of despair and turbulence. On the level of facts, the time period of Scottish Enlightenment, with its own list of characters and places, is appropriately framed as the intellectual backdrop to the human drama. More impressively, the book animates the protagonists' intimate human struggles and passions with a vivacity that only an archival exposé of private letters can muster.

My only criticism is a minor one: the author lets his own anticlericalism and irreligiosity, which he accurately pinpoints in Hume, take the centre stage, which obfuscates some of the finer points of distinction, drama and controversy that would have made for equally compelling storytelling.

But I cannot fault the book much for this focus, since as a narrative lodestar, or a leitmotif, the heresies and infidelities of the happy & plump philosopher are a juicy and logical choice. That said, the modern amplification of Hume's notoriety into a type of hero worship by latter day atheists is certainly a curious phenomenon that is not without its own shortcomings.

Overall, philosophical biographies are a niche market that is not exactly saturated with quality. This book is exceptional in that it combines good scholarship with easy exposition in a way that can be enjoyed by all readers. I rarely cry when reading (good) philosophy, except out of desperation, but here I cried from sympathy with the human struggles of Scotland's best sons.

  • Radical Markets

  • Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society
  • By: Eric A. Posner, E. Glen Weyl
  • Narrated by: James Conlan
  • Length: 9 hrs and 7 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 12
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 11
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 11

Many blame today's economic inequality, stagnation, and political instability on the free market. The solution is to rein in the market, right? Radical Markets turns this thinking - and pretty much all conventional thinking about markets, both for and against - on its head. The book reveals bold new ways to organize markets for the good of everyone.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Great ideas, mediocre telling

  • By Nick on 12-09-18

A cool new idea for every day of the week

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 28-08-18

Posner and Weyl's book is a collection of thought-provoking ideas. They center around the idea of radicalizing markets in different ways, e.g. through quadratic voting (QV), monetizing personal digital data, providing a social dividend (UBI) to all citizens, liberalizing immigration through a new work patronage system, etc.

The book is a timely incision into the big socioeconomic debates of our times. The idea of radicalizing laissez-faire is a key that opens a hatch into the abandoned attic of heterodox economics, from where many ingenious and golden ideas of the past centuries may be recovered (together with some kooky ones) and mixed in with some cutting-edge thinking about complexity, computation and citizenship.

Not all of the ideas strike me as equally plausible, but they all address real and growing problems with our capitalistic social democratic societies. There is a space for radical ideas that is calling out for new occupants, and it's better to fill that space with Henry George than with Karl Marx. Even if many of the included utopian schemes are full of obvious holes, and subject to many obvious counter-arguments, they may provide rudimentary building blocks for more carefully thought-out solutions in the future.

  • The Harvard Psychedelic Club

  • How Timothy Leary, Ram Dass, Huston Smith, and Andrew Weil Killed the Fifties and Ushered in a New Age for America
  • By: Don Lattin
  • Narrated by: John Pruden
  • Length: 7 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 9
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 9

It is impossible to overstate the cultural significance of the four men described in Don Lattin's The Harvard Psychedelic Club. Huston Smith, tirelessly working to promote cross-cultural religious and spiritual tolerance. Richard Alpert, aka Ram Dass, inspiring generations with his mantra "be here now". Andrew Weil, undisputed leader of the holistic medicine revolution. And, of course, Timothy Leary, the charismatic, rebellious counterculture icon and LSD guru.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Fascinating characters

  • By Amazon Customer on 17-08-18

Fascinating characters

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-08-18

The psychedelic revolution remains one of the most important ongoing challenges to the established power structures of society. The four men at the centre of this story - Leary, Alpert, Weil and Smith - are absolutely crucial figures in that story. Understanding their struggle can serve to highlight the revolutionary potential - and pitfalls - in our own times.

I absolutely adore the way the book focuses on the right four people, but it does not execute fully on that promise. The author is enamoured by glitter. The narrative is shallow, hurried and uninspired. Potential revelations and insights are left unexplored while the author glues the narrative onto journalistic superficialities. The patchwork of the text feels like an untended garden - crammed full of exotic (and hallucinogenic) plants.

There are gems of insight, especially around Weil's sleazy duplicity and attempts at reconciliation, and around Ram Dass's struggles with his homosexuality. These are not enough to elevate the book much above mediocrity.

My biggest gripe, related to the superficiality aspect, is that it is just not long enough: I would have liked to hear much more backstory and anecdotes. Spreading the narrative thin over four luminary authors - each of whom deserves a book-length treatment of his own - serves to highlight how much content is left unsaid.

The tight pacing has its advantages and disadvantages. The scintillating brilliance and tragic flaws of the main characters are amply in display and the flashy story remains entertaining all the way through. But the reader is left wanting more. And better.

The book is an essential appetizer. But where's the main course?

  • 12 Rules for Life

  • An Antidote to Chaos
  • By: Jordan B. Peterson
  • Narrated by: Jordan B. Peterson
  • Length: 15 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,949
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,196
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6,118

What are the most valuable things that everyone should know? Acclaimed clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson has influenced the modern understanding of personality, and now he has become one of the world's most popular public thinkers. In this book, he provides 12 profound and practical principles for how to live a meaningful life, from setting your house in order before criticising others to comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, not someone else today.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • The Hitchhikers Guide to Heaven

  • By Matthew on 04-02-18

A modern self-help classic

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-08-18

Dr. Peterson has many controversial views, many of which I disagree with. But this book is not a political tract, so it is him at his best and most universally helpful. It is likely to provoke a positive response in any thoughtful and open-minded reader. He is in his element in exploring, and succinctly explaining, many profound and life-changing findings of psychology, sociology and spirituality. His honesty and humility is combined with a forceful masculinity that can be deemed excessive, but I believe he has made a convincing case for it.

In fact, I have been a fan of Dr. Peterson for many years. I followed his lectures semi-devoutly when he was little known outside of Canada. I've learned a lot from him since, and my life has changed for the better as a result. I have not been persuaded by his theistic babble, or by his conservative family values. Bur I'm glad to see his message of self-discipline and self-overcoming receive a worldwide audience, with potentially life-changing results.

The 12 rules are orderly - as you might expect from a book that promises to be an antidote to chaos! They serve as launch pads for extensive commentaries on both mundane and spiritual matters (the two are often interlinked, after all). Not all of them are equally profound, but none of them feels forced or pointless. There is always a bigger picture that the details map on to. And the bigger picture is man's search for meaning - a topic to which the book offers an incredibly dense and moving array of practical solutions from a synoptic interdisciplinary perspective that intelligently fuses Darwinism with social psychology and revolutionary theology.

The book might leave some readers with a skewed perspective on atheist morality and French postmodern philosophy, two things that Dr. Peterson has laughably strong opinions about given how little he evidently knows about them, as shown by some factual inaccuracies (such that an undergraduate student might make in a badly researched philosophy essay).

Secondly, his traditionalist and conservative views lead him to embrace some questionable advice, such as that it's OK to hit children, or that women are chaotic creatures who probably shouldn't be encouraged, or expected, to rise to the top of the game of politics and business.

It is a testament to how profoundly interesting the rest of the book is that I'm willing to overlook his (minor) scholarly shortcomings and his (occasionally) dangerously conservative positions. But luckily he spends very little time on these topics. And even when he does, he always offers some food for thought from some novel and intriguing angle. (Otherwise I would have subtracted a star from the rating.)

This book is a wonderful gem that reflects a lifetime of thoughtful engagement with serious issues. Its brutally realistic message of transcendental hope through honest work and unavoidable suffering can lift spirits and offer practical wisdom to life's challenges. I think it will be seen as a modern spiritual classic - and I welcome its message as a devout atheist.