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Customer reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

on 27 April 2017
P.J. is a wonderful combination of a clown and an extremely observant and well-prepared observer. He has an amazing tolerance for very uncomfortable journeys to unattractive countries. All of it, however, gives him a sound base for demonstrating how few people, including prize-winning economists, really understand money. He investigates why America and Sweden with very different systems, manage to be very rich and how Tanazania and Russia, despite huge resources and immense natural endowments manage to be such economic disasters. A very entertaining and informative book.
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on 6 June 2017
O'Rourke is always a delight to read. He has a wonderful turn of phrase and he makes some very good points from his viewing position, which is close to the cocktail bar!
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on 12 April 2017
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on 3 August 1999
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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on 20 July 2005
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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on 28 February 1999
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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on 16 March 1999
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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on 18 February 2000
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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on 9 January 2003
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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on 26 August 1999
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. It also is, in its own way, very thought provoking with a tough message lurking below the humourous banter and similes.
There is too much ill-informed angst and liberal rubbish published in newspapers like the Guardian. This book puts it all in perspective. He visits Walls Street, Asia, and most memorably Cuba, and as he says - whats the point of a socialist utopia if your sister has to become a prosptitute to earn enough money for the family to eat.
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