HP & PUP: Gryffindor’s PUP Reading List

This week we have a couple of PUP books for any prospective Hogwarts student seeking placement in the Gryffindor house. What would a Gryffindor read? Or more specifically, what would Harry Potter read? Since Gryffindors value bravery, nerve, and chivalry, their required reading list would consist of books that highlight ethics, combat, and democracy. I’m sure “The Chosen One” would choose these books:

1. The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig- Gryffindors natural tendency to fix problems would draw them to Admati and Hellwig’s new book.

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What is wrong with today’s banking system? The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

Admati and Hellwig argue we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of the benefits of the system, and at essentially no cost to society. They show that banks are as fragile as they are not because they must be, but because they want to be–and they get away with it. Whereas this situation benefits bankers, it distorts the economy and exposes the public to unnecessary risks. Weak regulation and ineffective enforcement allowed the buildup of risks that ushered in the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Much can be done to create a better system and prevent crises. Yet the lessons from the crisis have not been learned.

Admati and Hellwig seek to engage the broader public in the debate by cutting through the jargon of banking, clearing the fog of confusion, and presenting the issues in simple and accessible terms.

2. Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era by Joseph Nye- Their natural born leadership qualities also make Nye’s book a good choice in learning more about past leaders.

3-27 pres leadThis book examines the foreign policy decisions of the presidents who presided over the most critical phases of America’s rise to world primacy in the twentieth century, and assesses the effectiveness and ethics of their choices. Joseph Nye, who was ranked as one of Foreign Policy magazine’s 100 Top Global Thinkers, reveals how some presidents tried with varying success to forge a new international order while others sought to manage America’s existing position. Taking readers from Theodore Roosevelt’s bid to insert America into the global balance of power to George H. W. Bush’s Gulf War in the early 1990s, Nye compares how Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson responded to America’s growing power and failed in their attempts to create a new order. He looks at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s efforts to escape isolationism before World War II, and at Harry Truman’s successful transformation of Roosevelt’s grand strategy into a permanent overseas presence of American troops at the dawn of the Cold War. He describes Dwight Eisenhower’s crucial role in consolidating containment, and compares the roles of Ronald Reagan and Bush in ending the Cold War and establishing the unipolar world in which American power reached its zenith.

The book shows how transformational presidents like Wilson and Reagan changed how America sees the world, but argues that transactional presidents like Eisenhower and the elder Bush were sometimes more effective and ethical. It also draws important lessons for today’s uncertain world, in which presidential decision making is more critical than ever.

3. The Leaderless Economy: Why the World Economic System Fell Apart and How to Fix It by Peter Temin and David Vines- Gryffindor do-gooders should read this to find out how they can be the leaders in this financial crisis.

Leaderless EconomyThe Leaderless Economy reveals why international financial cooperation is the only solution to today’s global economic crisis. In this timely and important book, Peter Temin and David Vines argue that our current predicament is a catastrophe rivaled only by the Great Depression. Taking an in-depth look at the history of both, they explain what went wrong and why, and demonstrate why international leadership is needed to restore prosperity and prevent future crises.

Temin and Vines argue that the financial collapse of the 1930s was an “end-of-regime crisis” in which the economic leader of the nineteenth century, Great Britain, found itself unable to stem international panic as countries abandoned the gold standard. They trace how John Maynard Keynes struggled for years to identify the causes of the Great Depression, and draw valuable lessons from his intellectual journey. Today we are in the midst of a similar crisis, one in which the regime that led the world economy in the twentieth century–that of the United States–is ending. Temin and Vines show how America emerged from World War II as an economic and military powerhouse, but how deregulation and a lax attitude toward international monetary flows left the nation incapable of reining in an overleveraged financial sector and powerless to contain the 2008 financial panic. Fixed exchange rates in Europe and Asia have exacerbated the problem.

4. Making War at Fort Hood:Life and Uncertainty in a Military Community by Kenneth MacLeish- Their interest in combat will bring them to this book about life in a military community.

3-6 Making WarMaking War at Fort Hood offers an illuminating look at war through the daily lives of the people whose job it is to produce it. Kenneth MacLeish conducted a year of intensive fieldwork among soldiers and their families at and around the US Army’s Fort Hood in central Texas. He shows how war’s reach extends far beyond the battlefield into military communities where violence is as routine, boring, and normal as it is shocking and traumatic.

Fort Hood is one of the largest military installations in the world, and many of the 55,000 personnel based there have served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. MacLeish provides intimate portraits of Fort Hood’s soldiers and those closest to them, drawing on numerous in-depth interviews and diverse ethnographic material. He explores the exceptional position that soldiers occupy in relation to violence–not only trained to fight and kill, but placed deliberately in harm’s way and offered up to die. The death and destruction of war happen to soldiers on purpose. MacLeish interweaves gripping narrative with critical theory and anthropological analysis to vividly describe this unique condition of vulnerability. Along the way, he sheds new light on the dynamics of military family life, stereotypes of veterans, what it means for civilians to say “thank you” to soldiers, and other questions about the sometimes ordinary, sometimes agonizing labor of making war.

Keep coming back to get your reading list for your Hogwarts house!