27 March 2012
Review: Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy
Stealth of Nations: The Global Rise of the Informal Economy by Robert Neuwirth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I tend to shy away from books like this, mostly because they tend to be more about expanding magazine-level journalism into a book-length treatise when it isn't necessary. The good thing is that Stealth of Nations would definitely make a good magazine treatment while being interesting and detailed enough for a book.
The book is more or less a quick and easy read about the underground economy - the selling of pirated materials in China, unlicensed food vendors in San Francisco, the sale of water itself in Nigeria. All sorts of different ways the "stealth economy" works on a regular basis for millions of people worldwide exchanging trillions of dollars yearly.
While a lot of my enjoyment of this book was centered around my favorable political biases toward those sticking it to governments and licensing boards, it's more fascinating to me about all the different ways we see this type of economy pop up, both in developed and underdeveloped nations. How so much of what we take for granted - selling a book online, for example - is part of this economy even if we dislike the concept personally.
Definitely an interesting read if this is up your alley. It's generally nonpolitical, so there's no concern there on a whole, and it's chock-full of a lot of fun and different information.
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