Each year the Wall Street Journal asks friends for their favorite books of the year. Two years ago I chose Thomas Sowell’s history of income distribution in Wealth, Poverty, and Politics and Brian Kilmeade’s history on Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates. Last year I chose The Man Who Knew, Sebastian Mallaby’s biography of Alan Greenspan, and War by Other Means by Bob Blackwill and Jennifer Harris.
This year I chose two amazingly relevant books on U.S. economic history: John Cogan’s The High Cost of Good Intentions: A History of U.S. Federal Entitlement Programs and Doug Irwin’s Clashing over Commerce: A History of US Trade Policy. My reasons in brief are found in the passage below from the printed December 16 WSJ edition. In these days of big economic policy changes, history is essential, and if I had room for a third book, it certainly would be another economic history, namely Tom Hazlett’s The Political Spectrum: The Tumultuous Liberation of Wireless Technology, from Herbert Hoover to the Smartphone.