Monday, June 14, 2010
Book Giveaway-The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Cooper Ramo
I have three copies of this book to giveaway. Please leave a comment with your email address below to enter. This is open to US and Canada only. Winners will be chosen on July 9.
Today the very ideas that made America great imperil its future. Our plans go awry and policies fail. History's grandest war against terrorism creates more terrorists. Global capitalism, intended to improve lives, increases the gap between rich and poor. Decisions made to stem a financial crisis guarantee its worsening. Environmental strategies to protect species lead to their extinction.
The traditional physics of power has been replaced by something radically different. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo puts forth a revelatory new model for understanding our dangerously unpredictable world. Drawing upon history, economics, complexity theory, psychology, immunology, and the science of networks, he describes a new landscape of inherent unpredictability--and remarkable, wonderful possibility.
Reading Group Guide:
1. In The Age of the Unthinkable, Joshua Cooper Ramo argues
that we are in a revolutionary age with a global order that is
changing around us exponentially faster than ever before.
What does Ramo think has caused the global landscape to
shift over the course of the past century, and how large a role
do you think technology has played in this transformation?
Does Ramo believe that this change was inevitable? Do you
agree or disagree?
2. Consider the signifi cance of Louis Halle’s observation that
“foreign policy is made not in reaction to the world but
rather in reaction to an image of the world in the minds of
the people making decisions” (page 13). In light of Ramo’s
argument, what is the fundamental problem with this
approach to foreign policy?
3. What does Ramo mean by “We Won the Cold War!” illusions?
Discuss some reasons why this mode of thinking
could prove detrimental in a revolutionary era.
4. Explain the implications of Friedrich August von Hayek’s
1974 acceptance speech, “The Pretence of Knowledge,” for
the Nobel Prize for Economics.
5. What was radical about Per Bak’s theory of a sandpile and its
avalanches, and how does Ramo use “the sandpile effect” to
further his argument? Can you think of some recent events
in our history that exhibit similar patterns?
6. Ramo discusses the excessive provisions that governments
often take to protect their countries from every possible
danger — even going as far as to say that such small- scale
efforts make countries more vulnerable to disaster than they
had previously been. What, according to Ramo, is the difference
between “resistance” and “resilience,” and which does
he think should be adopted in today’s changing world?
7. Does Ramo believe that the chaos of the past decade —
terrorism, war, recession — has had any kind of positive
infl uence on our society? If so, what form has it taken?
8. What does Ramo mean by the term mashup and how does
it relate to luminaries such as Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso,
Michael Moritz, and Shigeru Miyamoto, about whom he
writes? What do they all have in common?
9. History, both personal and collective, is a subject that necessitates
a particularly careful balance in the minds of world
leaders and individuals alike. In two instances Ramo writes
that “history became data; the future became output” (page
23) and that “there is fi nally no way to walk away from history
or stick it behind glass like some diorama” (page 258).
In order to think and act like a revolutionary, to master an
“instinct for cataclysm,” what role does history play in our
ability to adapt and move forward? Which aspects of the
past must we bring with us, and which must we forsake?
10. What does Ramo think that this revolutionary age demands
of each of us? Discuss his ideas about how we can learn to
anticipate the unexpected and begin to live more resilient