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Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing our World Hardcover – June 10, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 124 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

George F. Gilder is a journalist, New York Times bestselling author, and preeminent economic thinker who is credited with helping develop the supply-side economic theory. He has served as chairman of the Lehrman Institute's Economic Roundtable, was program director for the Manhattan Institute, and is the cofounder of the Discovery Institute. He is the author of many popular books and has written for the Wall Street Journal, National Review, Forbes, and other publications. He lives in New York with his wife.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (June 10, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1621570274
  • ISBN-13: 978-1621570271
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #89,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Harry T on June 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Poetry. That's how a friend once described George Gilder's Wealth and Poverty; he was right. Well, so too is Knowledge and Power. I have just finished the hardback and have ordered an audio version as well because reading wasn't enough. Knowledge and Power is a fresh and insightful view of economics. In the last decade, I read perhaps a dozen books on economics, but still remained uncomfortable with the topic. Relationships among spending, saving, inflation, currency values, regulation, productivity, trade, tariffs, subsidies, taxes, and more were confusing in the extreme. Knowledge and Power is a giant step in the clarification of what until now seemed an intractable topic.
Classical economics, whether in the Keynesian variety or the supply-side variety, builds models of economic systems from a mechanistic point of view. That is, it tries to build systems that interact with humans, but for which the human is not an integral part of the system. Economics before Knowledge and Power had the equivalent of a Newtonian perspective: it was believed possible to construct a closed-system model that could predict behavior of humans interacting with the system and responding to incentives. Past economic models have treated capitalism as an incentive system, but in reality capitalism is an information system. An economy is a vast information system in which knowledge is distributed among its human actors. In capitalist systems, knowledge and power are together in the individual; in socialist systems knowledge still resides in individuals, but power is vested a hierarchy with no access to the knowledge. Knowledge and Power shows that information and the human, and specifically the entrepreneur, are central to any economic model.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As other viewers have remarked, an information theory-based foundation for polical economy explained by this book is a big new idea. Revolutionary, game-changing, etc., all true. I have recommended the book to several friends, and will continue to do so, but the book is also flawed. The least of these flaws is that the core collection of important new ideas could have been explained in a magazine article. The book is divided into 25 chapters and three parts. Eleven chapters are in part one and are must reading. There are six interesting chapters in part two. All of part three can be skipped except the last chapter.

Gilder has integrated free markets and limited government under an information theory umbrella that credibly shows both theoretically and anecdotally how entrepreneurs drive economic and social progress. This is huge. He showed how more parts of the political-economic world fit together that I had formerly thought disparate.

Besides the length, a flaw of the book is that much of it is a series of extended book reviews. In many cases, I failed to see a compelling link to his information theory of political economy. Another flaw is the intellectual fights he picks with some unlikely targets. One of these fights is an attempt to resurrect "supply side" as a useful term. I agree with him on the substance, but see this as a re-branding loser.

A notable fight is with Nicholas Taleb, author of "Black Swan" and more recently "Anti-Fragile". Gilder doesn't acknowledge until the last two pages of the Taleb chapter (#18) that Taleb is on his side. Taleb has railed for years against over-dependence on Gaussian dogma, which is perfectly consistent with the acknowledgement of "surprises" that entrepreneurs produce.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Gilder's latest work is destined to be a classic similar to Wealth and Poverty. Gilder's theme centers around the nature of information theory applied to physics, chemistry, biology and economics where "the word becomes flesh" is a uni-directional phenomena. Gilder's mastery of this topic, peppered with an almost autobiographical approach to his life's writings makes for an extremely cerebral, thoughtful assessment of world economics history in light of today's global dynamics. Black swans and other "surprise" elements of the altruistic nature of entrepreneurs is uniquely captured and placed into a context that make it timeless, even with George's unique first person case study reviews of Jacobs' Qualcomm up through new entrants in immunology biotech life sciences.

My only reservation in a "like" versus "love" on the Amazon five star rating is George's mastery of the English language outpaces mine, so I have to keep a dictionary close by. Several other http://www.gildertech.com board subscribers also cited this to be the case.

With a unique forward by Andy Kessler (George's long time friend and colleague), over 30 pages of end notes, a "tendentious glossary" (which Gilder shared with his online http://www.gildertech.com board subscribers in April), an extensive index and highly relevant content germane to current global dynamics, I highly recommend this book for everyone's library who cares about the universe and how we fit into this amazing information model.

John Hoben
Spencerport, NY USA
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