Your New Reading List: Eliana Garcés’ Picks

For Eliana Garcés, co-author of Quantitative Techniques for Competition and Antitrust Analysis, a good book is one in which the author not only asks questions but determinedly seeks answers and explanations. No matter the subject, the key to a great book is originality and a fresh perspective.  Read her recommendations below:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Eliana says, “In this book, Richard Dawkins sets out to convince the reader that the tendency to believe in God is an evolutionary side product of the way our brain works and that both empirical evidence and logic argue against the existence of a supernatural god. Richard Dawkins takes no prisoners and is ruthless in his description of religion as it would be seen by a non-initiated outsider. The book is actually extremely entertaining and anyone unafraid to ask questions would enjoy it. Richard Dawkins also interestingly discusses the evolutionary roots of morality and ethics.

The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics by Eric Beinhocker

Eliana says, “Another interesting take on the implication of hard science on social sciences. Eric Beinhocker caters to a growing dissatisfaction with classical and neoclassical economics by proposing an alternative approach to modeling. His premise is that economics continues to be built on 19th century science and mathematics, and this limits its ability to explain a world that is complex and constantly evolving. A better way to model economics is to use what we now know of chaos theory and evolutionary theory. Economics should abandon the idea of equilibrium and determinism. We can at best explain processes and redefine the area of the possible. The book, particularly its first part, is stimulating and entertaining. Anyone with a feeling that economics is about to radically change will enjoy the fresh thinking.”

Life and Fate by Vasily Grossman

Eliana says, “Not exactly a summer read unless you define summer as just a lot of free time to take on a large book. This is a lucid but sad novel in which the author seems to lay out all he knows about the good and evil of people. The novel is set during the battle of Stalingrad where the Soviet population under the boot of Stalin fights Nazi invaders particularly bent on murder and annihilation. Characters are soldiers, gulag prisoners, concentration camp prisoners, Russian academics, their families, bystanders, in fact fairly normal people caught in a particularly frightening time. What seems to have tortured Grossman was the easiness with which populations in both Germany and the Soviet Union accepted and adjusted to regimes of terror and oppression, when not directly cooperating with it.  The book shockingly starts by noting that extermination camps had very few guards because prisoners mostly self policed.  Grossman wants to convince himself that tyranny will always be vanquished because it ultimately goes against human nature. Read this to mean that prisoners self policed, but suffered doing so. Still some suffered more than others and this is the real question of the novel: how much evil can we bear? The answer is: it varies with people but as a group quite a lot. Anyone interested in human nature and the corrosive power of an all controlling State will find this book illuminating. Grossman himself was a Russian journalist covering the Stalingrad battle and was with the Russian army when they entered the first extermination camps. His novel was censored by the Soviet government.”

To write great books, these authors not only assuaged their curiosity; they also used investigative techniques to reveal new dimensions and gave us something new to think about.  Thanks for the suggestions, Eliana!

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  1. The God Delusion sounds like a really interesting book – You’ve written a good short review and although I’ve heard of the book, it’s made me more interested in reading it! Thanks.