Sunday, March 14, 2010

Book Review: Sonic Boom

Catching up on a bunch of book reviews...

Title Sonic Boom: Globalization at Mach Speed
Author Gregg Easterbrook
Rating ****
Tags non-fiction, globalization, economics, innovation 

Thoughtful, dynamic book that leads one to think about the future in new ways, and defies conventional wisdom. First of all, Easterbrook is optimistic about the future, and points out the many ways in which, even with the current economic recession, life is better for many people than ever before in history. He thinks things will continue to improve, though he does some interesting speculation on what life will be like with global warming - Siberia may become the world's most desirable climate and open up to new resources, while currently hot climates may become unlivable.

Easterbrook is a believer in the free market. He paints a picture in which no one is in charge of the economy, and where attempts to control it hold back innovation and positive change. He admits the job disruptions caused thereby, and that the world economy, while producing increasing wealth with better-paying, safer jobs is, however, a world where jobs are not stable, that employees can expect to change jobs several times over their careers. He does deal somewhat with the implications. He thinks education through college and health care should both be universal and affordable in a world where employees need mental flexibility to learn new jobs and must be free of the fear that losing their jobs means losing their health care.

He sees a world in which innovation is key, so the more educated minds working on problems the better. Flexibility is important....manufacturers who can more easily gear up to make new products will win out over older fixed assembly plants that take too much time and money to refigure.

It is a fascinating book that offers a fascinating future. There are points it is easy to disagree with him about. He seems to think there is little that governments can do to affect change, yet praises Germany for subsidizing solar energy, for example, which seems inconsistent.

Easterbrook writes well, and the excitement of the world he depicts is enticing. He does give practical examples of what he is talking about. The book is partly arranged geographically, with chapters devoted to cities that exemplify the kinds of changes Easterbrook is talking about. He also is quick to admit problems, but sees answers in the long term. I'm not sure he offers any solutions for jobless people in the short term, however, and that's the biggest problem with this picture of the future.

Overall an interesting, energetic book that provides a viewpoint that needs to be heard.

Publication Random House (2009), Hardcover, 272 pages
Publication date 2009
ISBN 1400063957 / 9781400063956

Posted via web from reannon's posterous

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