Recent Book Reviews

Here you will find a list of our 10 most recent book reviews:

 

Humans as a Service by Jeremias Prassl

In Humans as a Service, Prassl re-evaluates the merits and pitfalls of the “gig economy” and seeks to discover ways that society might benefit from it without falling into extreme forms of labour force commodification. The book focusses on regulatory solutions and lacks a discussion of broader considerations but it is nonetheless a good and informative read.

 

Management as a Calling by Andrew J. Hoffman

Management as a Calling (published 2021) is not written overtly from a religious perspective although the author speaks with evangelistic fervour, challenging business students and those involved in business to embrace fundamental values and thus address the challenges of modern business, including especially climate change.  The book is brief and at times superficial and utopian but it contains much that is thought provoking.

 

Putting Purpose into Practice eds. by Colin Mayer & Bruno Roche

Putting Purpose into Practice (published 2021) is the product of an extensive research programme undertaken between Mars Catalyst, which is the internal think-tank of the Mars company, and the Saïd Business School. It seeks to achieve far too much and would have been more coherent if it had contained and been shaped by a clear definition of what it calls the “economics of mutuality”. However, it contains some significant insights, offering areas for further research and useful debates on important topics.”

 

Money and the Rule of Law by Peter J. Boettke, Alexander William Salter and Daniel J. Smith

Money and the Rule of Law (published 2021) is more specialist than most of the books that we have reviewed: it deals with the question, whether discretionary central banking is a good or a bad thing. It nonetheless deserves to be widely read since it raises issues of societal importance that deserve to be debated far more widely than they are.  The authors argue that there are practical reasons for rejecting discretionary central banking and, more fundamentally, that it is inconsistent with the rule of law and thus incompatible with liberal democracy.  The book is US centric but the issues are of general applicability and, despite being technical in part, is not a difficult read.

 

Reimagining Capitalism: How business can save the world by Rebecca Henderson

Reimagining Capitalism: How business can save the world (published 2020) covers some of the same group as Mayer’s work. Rebecca Henderson is a staunch believer in the positive power of Capitalism but she argues that its defects are such that it is necessary to “reimagine” it.  She then sets out a five foundation blocks for this reimagination, including abandoning the concept of shareholder value in favour of the creation of shared value and the adoption by enterprises of an authentic purpose.  Whilst these ideas are not new, Henderson has provided a readable and passionate discussion of them.

 

The World Made Otherwise by Timothy J. Gorringe

Timothy Gorringe’s more recent book, The World Made Otherwise (published 2018) repeats his call for radical, political, economic and social change and environmental issues have added to the imperative tone of his appeals for this. Unfortunately, his proposals are Utopian and the book is unlikely to prove persuasive to those who do not share his liberal Christian and Marxist views.

 

Capitalism and Democracy by Thomas Spragens

Capitalism and Democracy (published 2021) should provide a good introduction to the issues that underlie contemporary disagreements about the role of the market and of government in the economy. It is aimed at the general public who want to improve their understanding of the relevant issues and university students and many others will benefit from its succinct overview of the relevant issues.  In an age of political polarisation, Spragens refreshingly argues that reasonable people may differ and that we need to bear in mind that we cannot have it all so we need to balance differing objectives.

 

Free Trade Under Fire by Douglas A. Irwin

Free Trade under Fire (fifth edition published 2020) is, as the title suggests, a defence of international trade. It aims to explain some basic economic principles and empirical evidence regarding international trade and trade policies.  In an age of increasing nationalist rhetoric, we need to examine afresh the issues, to re-educate ourselves and this book is an excellent step in that direction.

 

Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism by Kathryn Tanner

Christianity and the New Spirit of Capitalism by Kathryn Tanner (published 2019) also comes from a left of centre starting point.  It purports to offer “an imaginative counter to the whole world of capitalism” but its description of capitalism is a muddled caricature and it lacks suggestions that would help people in relation to their everyday work and other actions. Those looking for help in relation to these things would be better off reading some of the other books reviewed in the section of this website entitled “The Business World” (see, in particular, those mentioned under “The Purpose of Business”).

 

The Social Dilemma by Jeff Orlowski

The Social Dilemma is not a book: it is a Netflix documentary directed by Jeff Orlowski (released September 2020).  It is structured around interviews with pioneers at leading social media platforms who believe that things have gone wrong and its thesis is that the tech industry has lost its ethical bearings and, specifically that the social media platforms have sacrificed ethics in the pursuit of profit. The documentary provides a succinct introduction to this issue.