Delusions of Grandeur

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Diplomats are masters of urbane doubletalk, so it is refreshing to find a former Foreign Office mandarin issuing a trenchant indictment of Britain’s deplorable geopolitical performance over the last twenty-five years. Arthur Snell held a senior post in the government’s anti-terrorist programme and now hosts a podcast named Doomsday Watch. In this book he argues […]

The Ghost at the Party Congress

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

On 10 September 1976, the day after Chairman Mao died, Gamani Corea, secretary-general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, sent a condolence note to the ambassador of the permanent mission of the People’s Republic of China at the United Nations in Geneva: ‘Please convey to the family of Chairman Mao and to […]

Traders in Our Midst

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

If anyone is qualified to write a history of free-market thinking, it is surely Jacob Soll. He is a professor of history, philosophy and accounting at the University of Southern California, and he has needed to draw on all three disciplines to write this history, which stretches from Cicero to Milton Friedman and beyond. The book is simultaneously interesting and frustrating. The subject’s interest is obvious enough: given

Behind Every Great Man

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It would be hard to find a reputable historian still professing the ‘great man’ theory of history. Widely said to have originated with Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century, the theory had really been the stock-in-trade of annalists since history started to be written, and only the very best historians avoided it. Carlyle’s heroes were […]

Facebook Knows Your Thoughts

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

Whether tracking prey, scoping a deal, scouting a romantic partner or raising our young, humans have always sought to deduce and then to influence the thinking of those about us. We often succeed, sometimes on a large scale: the results of such influence have included cults, theocracies and totalitarian propaganda, as well as populations responsive […]

How Dosh Went Digital

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

It was way back in 2013 when Brett Scott first contacted me. He told me he’d written a book called The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance, ‘which I actually sell for bitcoin,’ he explained. Buying something with bitcoin? The idea seemed preposterous then; now I wish I’d sold my own book for bitcoin. There are […]

Pirates of the Aegean

Posted on by Jonathan Beckman

At 3am on 6 July 2011, the USS Philippine Sea, on piracy patrol in the Gulf of Aden, received a radio distress message: ‘Coalition warship, coalition warship, this is Brillante Virtuoso. We are under attack.’ There were pirates on board and the ship was on fire. After abandoning ship, the tanker’s mainly Filipino crew, along with their packed suitcases, were picked up by the US cruiser from a large lifeboat. The Brillante’s captain explained

Imminent Return to Chaos & War

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

Michael Mandelbaum is one of the most lucid American commentators on international affairs. His books are thought-provoking, even when one does not agree with him. He has an enviable knack of explaining complex matters in crisp and sometimes witty prose. The focus of The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth is the quarter-century following […]

Financial Times

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

The government’s Research Excellence Framework (REF), which determines the allocation of research funding to British universities, tends to reward microadvances in each field. These usually take the form of articles published in the top peer-reviewed journals, particularly in the USA. This suits some disciplines better than others. When I was director of the London School […]

Cry Freedom

Posted on by Frank Brinkley

It took liberals just two decades to turn from hubris to hand-wringing. When the Berlin Wall fell, their confidence was unbounded. The ‘End of History’ was declared. Liberalism had won. Today, with the rise of populism, liberals are walking around like clueless tourists, wondering how we ended up here and what to do about it. Liberals forgot three fundamental facts

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