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Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics [Hardcover]

P. J. O'Rourke
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Nov 1998
"I wanted to know why some parts of the Earth prosper and others suck", writes P.J. O'Rourke, to explain his two-year round the world sojourn in search of the bottom line. In this book, he samples good capitalism on Wall Street and bad capitalism in Albania, with stopovers from Hong Kong to Moscow.


Product details

  • Hardcover: 246 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; 1st Picador Edition edition (20 Nov 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330353276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330353274
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.4 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 521,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

A conservative, prosperous American journalist gadding around the world laughing at all the ways less successful nations screw up their economy--this might not sound like the recipe for a great read, unless you're Rush Limbaugh, but if that journalist is P.J. O'Rourke you can be sure that you'll enjoy the ride even if you don't agree with the politics. Although Eat the Rich is subtitled A Treatise on Economics, O'Rourke spends relatively few pages tackling the complexities of monetary theory. He's much happier when flying from Sweden to Hong Kong, then on to Tanzania and Moscow, gleefully recording every economic goof he can find. When he visits post-Soviet Russia and finds a country that is as messed up by capitalism as it was by communism, O'Rourke mixes jokes about black-market shoes with disturbing insights into a nation on the verge of collapse. P.J. O'Rourke is more than a humourist, he's an experienced international journalist with a lot of frequent-flyer miles and this gives even his funniest riffs on the world's problems a startling ring of truth.

About the Author

P. J. O'Rourke is the bestselling author of ten books, including Eat the Rich, Give War a Chance, Holidays in Hell, Parliament of Whores, All the Trouble in the World, The CEO of the Sofa and Peace Kills. He has contributed to, among other publications, Playboy, Esquire, Harper's, New Republic, the New York Times Book Review and Vanity Fair. He is a regular correspondent for the Atlantic magazine. He divides his time between New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
I had one fundamental question about economics: Why do some places prosper and thrive while others just suck? It's not a matter of brains. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fear and loathing in business class 16 Mar 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
PJ O'Rourke is one of the funniest men to walk the surface of this planet, if indeed his feet ever actually touch the ground. maybe he is just one of the most humourous men in low earth orbit. Whatever.
Despite his politics, he is a very human writer. Right wingers are frequently prone to righteous puritanicalism, O'Rourke, however, enjoys drugs, sex and rock and roll as much as the next person, and more than many.
In 'Eat The Rich', he tries to do what many have tried before: make sense of economics. And he almost manages. I now understand derivatives, know the difference between a stock and a bond (you can be tied to one by the other, and then pilloried for making such poor puns). But, ultimately, PJ gives up the ghost deciding that sense cannot be made of something so abstract, obtuse and plain nonsensical as Economics.
To his credit, PJ never allows the subject matter to deter him from his primary aim, to write an urbane, amusing and witty book. Very, very, very funny. Eat The Rich has a large marginal propensity to make me laugh. You should subscribe to the law of supply and demand a copy now.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
PJ O'Rourke sets off to find out the real answer to economics. This is 'Why some places are rich, whilst others just suck.' He looks firstly at Wall Street 'good capitalism' and says that it is because government takes a backseat that it has done so well. Also on the 'good capitalism' side is Hong Kong. This is the place where the 'nothing needs to be done' attitude has worked. PJ says that the people of Hong Kong have done it all themselves, made everything from nothing. He then looks at 'bad socialism' and naturally stops first at Cuba. He says that government interference and control of the economy has wrecked life in Cuba. Castro claims that their is no unemployment in Cuba. PJ notices hundreds of people hanging around on streetcorners and wonders what there jbb is. He shows a faint glimmer of hope though. Those areas that are not under control (mainly just restaurants with a capacity of less than 12!).
Looking at Russia, he shows how not to reform an economy (if there is one!). He points out that Communism has 'beaten out enterprise' from the people, whose mindset is not to take control of their lives.
His conclusion is that both systems are messy and far from ideal. But at least under capitalism the supermarket is full of food, and your not shot if you dont buy from the approved supplier.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining and educational 20 July 2005
Format:Paperback
In a couple of paragraphs, O' Rourke explains international currency (dealing): '...it keeps governments "honest"...'

So now I understand, it is all so simple, so why don't economic text books say it? It is because, as O' Rourke explains, economics is based on the undefinable: the value of things.

He shows how destructive centralised control from real-world examples not just in communism but also in democracies finishing with the astonishing case of Hong Kong that has, virtually zero government interference (and no natural resources either apart from the Chinese mindset).

The book is written, unselfconsciously, as a "travel guide" with easy humour.

If you want to know what "the money multiplier is" then don't buy this book, get a text book. If you want a laugh and are interested in how the world really works then buy this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The "Treatise on Economics" promised on the front cover is rather mis-leading; the economic analysis in this book is frequently very sloppy. However the crisp, humorous observations of Albanian/Swedish/Cuban/Russain/Tanzanian and Chinese life are splendid. Very entertaining, light-hearted, and enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Don't be put off by the terrible adverts for British Airways in which PJ O'Rourke appears. reading this book will disabuse you of any notion that he was responsible for the scripts.
This book is funny, insightful, charming and entertaining. It is also a remarkably consise and sharply observed idiot's guide to economics, but that it is not to say that it is written by an idiot or is intended for idiots.
PJ seems genuinely to put his libertarian prejudices aside and then examines economic theories, their foundations and effects in a sharp and jargon free style, featuring what seems to be absolute honesty and a complete lack of vanity, exposing the fact that economics is merely a means of measuring human nature, and neatly and logically arriving back at a position of profound libertarianism.
Although this is only my second PJ book, I have never read a word of his that I've thought was ill placed, ill judged or wrong. I only wish he had run for mayor of London instead of New York.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
One hears about PJ O'Rourke, but the first exposure is a pleasure indeed. Opinionated, irreverent, self-effacing, often conservative and liberal at once, the author examines wealth and seeks to find some connections. His observations of the world are hysterical and, often, very accurate. Buy this book
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Serious subjects discussed with humour
A fantastic collection of P.J's thought provoking (but very funny) essays on the general theme of economics. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Bob
1.0 out of 5 stars sound instincts, poor taste
While I share his intellectual predilections, I object to all the obscenity and blasphemy. OK he's only a hack, but he has a good case to make. I want to like him. Read more
Published on 23 May 2012 by Richard Ashton
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely funny look at economics
In this book ORourke takes a very entertaining look at world economics, as he travels to different countries and discusses theiur economic systems and why they do, or do not, work. Read more
Published on 8 Jun 2004 by L O'connor
1.0 out of 5 stars That joke isn't funny anymore
Not suprisingly, PJ O'Rourke has done his homework once again. Facts and figures are crammed into virtually every page, telling us... nothing at all. Read more
Published on 26 Jun 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Very thought provoking - A must for all Guardian readers
This is book is a slight departure from PJ's other stuff in that it is much more of a coherent work than previous books which were just collections of essays & articles. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars As ever, very readable, but.....
Another well written book by PJ O'Rourke on something I knew nothing about. But whilst I did learn what GDP is and the importance of it to the ecomony of a country etc I felt this... Read more
Published on 11 April 1999
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