Back a few months ago I committed to naming a Book of the Year. Well, the choice wasn’t that simple. For 2020 tellthetruthonthem.com is naming two Books of the Year: Capital and Ideology by Thomas Piketty along with The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. It’s almost as if the books won in separate divisions: the nerd and the regular divisions.
Capital and Ideology is certainly in the nerdy (perhaps super-nerdy) division. It is long, somewhat redundant and chock full of statistics and charts. It is certainly not a beach read. A background in economics and sociology is helpful but not necessary. Reading this is almost an investment and it will be a laborious read. It is not recommended for the general audience.
Piketty is a French economist who is universally considered among the world’s best. While French is his primary language he writes well in English and speaks it ever better save a French accent that is easy to decipher.
The book is a study in social inequity juxtaposed with economics from about the year 1000 to today. It focuses on several countries in particular France, the UK and America. I have read several of Piketty’s works and this may well be his best.
The Splendid and the Vile is historical non-fiction that borders on historical fiction. Larson is a best-selling author of international acclaim. The book will be entertaining as well as informative. Of medium length it will take a bit of reading but the task will be pleasurable.
Larson focuses on the first year of Winston Churchill’s time as the UK’s Prime Minister. He along with Adolph Hitler are the main characters of focus; hence the splendid (Churchill) and the vile (Hitler). The key trait explored is leadership. While Churchill was a bit weird he was a great leader. Reading this in the time of Trump the leadership question took center stage and the comparison unavoidable. (Trump loses to Churchill by a huge margin.)
This is a book I recommend for all readers including those as young as high school age. In fact it is a great supplement to the study of World War II. (FDR and America’s involvement is also detailed.)
Most likely your local independent bookseller has The Splendid and the Vile in stock if you are so bold and inclined, they probably will have to order Capital and Ideology. If you are an eBook (like me) or audiobook person they can help you buy them via a site that keeps them in the “revenue loop”. Please buy your books via your local independent bookseller in doing so you will improve yourself and your community in the process. And don’t forget books make great gifts; nothing like giving the gift of knowledge.
This article was written well ahead of publishing in order to accommodate my year end hiatus and is the property of tellthetruthonthem.com. Its content may not be used without citing the source. It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.