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