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"Write out of love, write out of instinct, write out of reason. But always for money."
Louis Untermeyer

Eat the Rich: A Treatise on Economics

By P.J. O'Rourke
Atlantic Monthly Press, 246 pp, 1998

P.J. O'Rourke is a journalist. He writes primarily for Rolling Stone and a few other publications. He is also very funny.

He also has a great scam going.

Eat the Rich is his latest book. He's written others, such as the hilarious and too-true Parliament of Whores and All the Trouble in the World, both of which I've read. These three books all consist of articles he's written for Rolling Stone and other magazines. He's already been paid to write the articles, and now he's going to get paid again for the same articles, now in book form.

It's a wonderful device, and I don't begrudge him a cent. But if you've already read his articles, there's no reason to buy or read his books. But I don't read the magazines in which he appears, so it's okay. And besides, I bought this book off the clearance rack for three bucks. Not much royalty on that purchase!

Anyway, as the subtitle suggests, O'Rourke writes about economics. He's reprinted articles about his trips around the globe, to destinations like Russia, Tanzania, Hong Kong, Cuba, and others, to examine why, as he puts it, "some places thrive and prosper while others just suck?"

His conclusion is faithful to his libertarian faith. Prosperous places trust the free market and freedom, wretched places suppress freedom and the free market.

Luckily, though, O'Rourke doesn't present that conclusion until the end, because his articles are sharp and funny. The one on Wall Street was side-splitting, and yet I learned more about stocks and bonds reading that one article than I have from entire books on the same subject. O'Rourke is blessed with the talent of explaining complex subjects in an entertaining, easily understood manner.

So, if you don't read Rolling Stone, pick up the book. It'll be new and fun.

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