What We Are Reading Today: Skin in the Game

What We Are Reading Today: Skin in the Game
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Updated 30 January 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Skin in the Game

What We Are Reading Today: Skin in the Game

Author: Nassim Nicholas Taleb

In Skin in the Game, one of the foremost thinkers of our time, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, redefines what it means to understand the world, succeed in a profession, contribute to a fair and just society, detect nonsense, and influence others.
Citing examples ranging from Hammurabi to Seneca, Antaeus the Giant to Donald Trump, Taleb shows how the willingness to accept one’s own risks is an essential attribute of heroes, saints, and flourishing people in all walks of life.
As always both accessible and iconoclastic, Taleb challenges long-held beliefs about the values of those who spearhead military interventions, make financial investments, and propagate religious faiths.
The phrase “skin in the game” is one we have often heard but rarely stopped to truly dissect. It is the backbone of risk management, but it’s also an astonishingly rich worldview that, as Taleb shows in this book, applies to all aspects of our lives.
As he says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice,” and “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game.”


What We Are Reading Today: Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ by Ofer Fridman

What We Are Reading Today: Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ by Ofer Fridman
Updated 18 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ by Ofer Fridman

What We Are Reading Today: Russian ‘Hybrid Warfare’ by Ofer Fridman

During the last decade, “Hybrid Warfare” has become a novel yet controversial term in academic, political and professional military lexicons. Enthusiastic discussion of the notion has been undermined by conceptual vagueness and political manipulation, particularly since the onset of the Ukrainian crisis in early 2014.

Many political observers contend that it is the West that has been waging hybrid war since the end of the Cold War.

In this highly topical book, Ofer Fridman offers a clear delineation of the conceptual debates about hybrid warfare, according to a review on goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy
Updated 17 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

What We Are Reading Today: The Lessons of Tragedy

Author: Hal Brands and Charles Edel

The book offers an eloquent call to draw on the lessons of the past to address current threats to international peace.

Today, after more than seventy years of great‑power peace and a quarter‑century of unrivaled global leadership, Americans have lost their sense of tragedy. They have forgotten that the descent into violence and war has been all too common throughout human history.

In a forceful argument that brims with historical sensibility and policy insights, two distinguished historians argue that a tragic sensibility is necessary if America and its allies are to address the dangers that menace the international order today, according to a review on goodreads.com.


What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion
Updated 16 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

What We Are Reading Today: Extraction Ecologies and the Literature of the Long Exhaustion

Author: Elizabeth Carolyn Miller

The 1830s to the 1930s saw the rise of large-scale industrial mining in the British imperial world. Elizabeth Carolyn Miller examines how literature of this era reckoned with a new vision of civilization where humans are dependent on finite, nonrenewable stores of earthly resources, and traces how the threatening horizon of resource exhaustion worked its way into narrative form.
Britain was the first nation to transition to industry based on fossil fuels, which put its novelists and other writers in the remarkable position of mediating the emergence of extraction-based life.
Miller looks at works like Hard Times, The Mill on the Floss, and Sons and Lovers, showing how the provincial realist novel’s longstanding reliance on marriage and inheritance plots transforms against the backdrop of exhaustion to withhold the promise of reproductive futurity. She explores how adventure stories like Treasure Island and Heart of Darkness reorient fictional space toward the resource frontier.


What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi
Updated 14 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

What We Are Reading Today: Paracelsus; Selected Writings by B Jolande Jacobi

The enigmatic 16th-century Swiss physician and natural philosopher Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, called Paracelsus, is known for the almost superhuman energy with which he produced his innumerable writings, for his remarkable achievements in the development of science, and for his reputation as a visionary (not to mention sorcerer) and alchemist.

Little is known of his biography beyond his legendary achievements, and the details of his life have been filled in over the centuries by his admirers. This richly illustrated anthology presents in modernized language a selection of the moral thought of a man who was not only a self-willed genius charged with the dynamism of an impetuous and turbulent age but also in many ways a humble seeker after truth, who deeply influenced C. G. Jung and his followers.


What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle
Updated 14 October 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

What We Are Reading Today: Cogs and Monsters by Diane Coyle

Digital technology, big data, big tech, machine learning, and AI are revolutionizing both the tools of economics and the phenomena it seeks to measure, understand, and shape. In Cogs and Monsters, Diane Coyle explores the enormous problems—but also opportunities—facing economics today if it is to respond effectively to these dizzying changes and help policymakers solve the world’s crises, from pandemic recovery and inequality to slow growth and the climate emergency.

Mainstream economics, Coyle says, still assumes people are “cogs”—self-interested, calculating, independent agents interacting in defined contexts. But the digital economy is much more characterized by “monsters”—untethered, snowballing, and socially influenced unknowns. What is worse, by treating people as cogs, economics is creating its own monsters, leaving itself without the tools to understand the new problems it faces.