Friday, May 21, 2004

Review of P.J. O'Rourke's All the Trouble in the World

Sometimes I like to think that if I ever were to be able to find my own political writing voice, it would sound something like P.J. O’Rourke’s. Reading through his All the Trouble in the World is a similar experience to his other books. That is not to say that by the time you get to this book you are bored. The places he writes about are all new, as are the angles he takes toward them. Here he talks about some standard economic issues such as the alleged population explosion, the alleged various economic crises, issues of plague, muticulturalism and ethnic conflict.

The places he looks at are Yugoslavia, Vietnam, the Amazon rain forest, Somalia, Bangladesh, Haiti, and his college alma matter. His insights and observations on all of these are as usual acute and on the money – literally. O’Rourke’s main goal is to illustrate via real world observations, the benefits of minimal government interference on the world. In the book he correctly claims that “We don’t know what causes wealth. . . All we can really do in the study of poverty and wealth is watch carefully when one is turning in to the other.” This he does well.

Most of all, O’Rourke’s style is very entertaining. He is funny sarcastic, and little escapes his fine sense of satire. As much as I talk about what the book is trying to convince you of, don’t be fooled by its content. You read the book because it is funny. Nothing else. Don’t let the high-minded talk about supply and demand get in the way of the laughter.

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