There’s nothing wrong with not finishing a book that’s unenjoyable. After all, reading should be a act of leisure, and there’s nothing leisurely about slogging through a monotonous set of pages. Because I adhere to this principle, my book-completion percentage over the past six months is 20%. This afternoon, I finished a book, and was surprised. Not because I finished it, but because it was a book that didn’t initially seem enjoyable. The book was Paul Krugman’s “The Conscience of a Liberal” and my review will focus more on why it was enjoyable, then on Krugman’s actual argument.
I didn’t have high expectations going in to this book. 200+ pages of economic and political arguments seemed a little too much like my AP Government class, but I occasionally read Krugman’s op-ed in New York Times and enjoyed it. Krugman’s basic argument is that after the New Deal, we experienced a period of political and socioeconomic unity that lasted until Nixon. Since then, conservatives have been the radical party, attempting to revoke the changes brought on by the New Deal, and creating social inequality in the process.
Krugman will occasionally drop a figure that will leave the reader speechless. For example, in the mid-fifties, the income tax for the very rich was 91%, compared to 35% today. What makes the book, however, is the way in which Krugman delivers his message. There is never a moment where Krugman is ranting. Krugman doesn’t trash any politicians. He never once says “liberals are right and conservatives are wrong.” Rather, he credits our current issues on gradual changes in political norms. By remaining calm and collected, Krugman successfully avoids two things that plague political book. “The Conscience of a Liberal” keeps the reader interested by not reading like a text book yet doesn’t turn the reader off by being overtly bias. The book did it’s job by convincing me, yet it also did much more: it entertained me.