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on February 8, 2014
I gave this book 5 stars primarily for the vast information it contains.

As someone who was a titan in the business and consulting world and then held the post of the federal reserve chairman, (one of the top five most powerful positions in the world) for over two decades, he has a tremendous story to tell. The first half of the book which talks about his professional life, largely provides a historical glance into 20th century America, from the great depression till date. The second (part), delves into his take on issues such as world economics, corporate governance, inequality, globalization, capitalism, market forces, deregulation etc. In most, if not all instances, he offers a convincing argument and explanation for his stances.

At times his language is a little difficult to grasp but overall it is a fantastic read.
I recommend heartily.
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on July 18, 2008
I purchased the CDs to listen in my car while I commute to learn more about Global and Macroeconomics. While it was not a classroom education it was well worth the time and money.

The first several CDs cover Mr. Greenspan's early life and give a great deal of insight into how his views developed. They are very light, laced with dry (but quite amusing) humor and move along very quickly. Upon learning of his close friendship with Ayn Rand, much of his manner and opinion comes into clear focus.

Namely, Mr. Greenspan is a unapologetic Free Market Capitalist. His arena is Global Macroeconomics and he embraces "Creative Destruction" wholeheartedly. While he does address the hardships of this, it is in a purely pragmatic approach. I get the feeling he does care about the socioeconomic fallout but this is not the purpose of these CDs.

The middle CDs are sometimes difficult for a lay person to follow but are worth repeating to gain a better understanding. His explanations of Developing Markets, Populism, and the demise of Central Planning are very detailed and interesting.

I found I enjoyed the last CDs the most as they address current global uncertainties. The spike in oil prices, the fall of the dollar, accounting scandals, changing labor markets, and need to address energy consumption. You may not agree with him on principal but he presents solid arguments in his favor.

I recommend this collection to lay people interested in gaining a better understanding of Global macroeconomics and, oddly, those opposed to Globalization. While the latter may sound odd Mr. Greenspan presents his argument clearly and concisely. There are no vaguaries in his points and this allows reasoned response to to these issues.
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on August 19, 2017
Excellent book overall. Lots of great insights. Don't look to this book for any "gossip" or insider fodder on the Presidents and administrations her has worked for. The first half is a biography and the second half is his views on a range of economic subjects.
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on October 7, 2007
Greenspan's anecdotes are interesting - he was in high places and behind the scenes during a somewhat turbulent time we all lived through (it isn't difficult to think of far more turbulent times humanity has endured). His determination to present himself as just a simple, hard-working number-cruncher who hesitates to use the vertical pronoun comes off a bit disingenuous, but the writing on the whole is excellent.
About half-way along, he shows his true philosophical colors: The only system worth living under, according to Mr. G., is laissez-faire capitalism and anything whatsoever that constrains it is the "welfare state." The one is held up on a pedestal and worshipped; every extra nickel it squeezes out of the ether is applauded; the other is booed and hissed and every incremental nickel foregone in the name of smoothing out the iniquities of an economic free-for-all is lamented. We see the usual "lying with statistics," e.g. using average per capita income as a yardstick for measuring the success of an economy without making much of the fact that ten guys with ten thousand dollars each yield the same average as one guy with a hundred thousand dollars and nine guys with nothing. Dr. G. talks about a system that rewards "risk taking" without acknowledging that any risk taker needs a modicum of luck to achieve success, otherwise it would not be called "risk." Yet those risk-takers who succeed in the casino of life are deemed to deserve every nickel and be in no way beholden to those who took the same risks, as carefully and with as much bravery and forethought but with, ultimately, less favorable winds at their back -- or those fellow beings who for whatever reason never got into the race in the first place. And yet, when unfettered and unregulated risk takers threaten, by their unfettered risk-taking, to bring down the entire world economy, then it's okay for government agencies to step and save the day even if it allows those financial buccaneers to walk away with a whole lot of money that they should have lost. Not once in this long paean to self-interest as the driving force of a healthy economy does Mr. G. give the slightest nod to the concept of the "tragedy of the commons," a logical argument that unbridled self-interest does not always serve the common good. Is it really just coincidence that during Greenspan's tenure at the Fed, income disparity in America grew by leaps and bounds? I think not; his de rigeur mention of the political problems that may arise out of a growing divide between rich and poor hardly amounts to a call for greater equality. No, winner-take-all is the system for Alan Greenspan. This guy is Ayn Rand in a business suit (an observation Mr. G. would no doubt take as a compliment, though it isn't meant as such).
Reading this book, it really helps to know something about what exactly the Federal Reserve is: a private corporation owned by banks, granted by government the power to issue money out of thin air. Thomas Jefferson once said "If the American people ever allow the banks to control the issuance of their currency...the banks and the corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of all property, until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." And Greenspan himself, writing before he went to work for just such a bank, wrote that "In the absence of the gold standard, there is no way to protect savings from confiscation through inflation. There is no safe store of value...(Gold) stands as a protector of property rights." Needless to say, following his employment by the Federal Reserve, Mr. Greenspan changed his tune.
All this said, once I grasped the lens through which Greenspan sees everything, it was possible to add the correct amount of salt to his pronouncements and the rest of the book became quite interesting. His take on the world-economic status quo and his prognostications and warnings about the future in a changing global economy are worth reading as long as one doesn't swallow them whole -- and as long as one keeps a weather eye on the weakening dollar which is really just a balloon full of hot air at this point in our history. In all, a book not to be missed by those with the critical powers to resist its disingenuous certainties.
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on April 7, 2008
I actually love this book. I ordered it in hardcover first and then cancelled it and ordered it on CD figuring I would be able to get to it much quicker as an audio read in the car. My intention was correct and the content of this book is definitely worth reading. However, the audio is so uneven, especially after the biographical chapters, that it is completely distracting. I found myself having to rewind several times to get past the changes in the narrator's sound and inflection. This occurs more often in the midst of chapters and tracks than in chapter breaks. I wasn't overall crazy about the narrator, but, I believe this has more to do with the editing and producing of the disk. The narrator probably read some passages more than once and they spliced together the "best" takes. It's horrible. Do yourself a favor and read the printed version. I would give that four stars on content alone. It might have been interesting to hear Greenspan's own voice as I believe the narrator wasn't always in understanding of the text.
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on October 27, 2007
Wow, this was a hard book to get through. 505 pages of economic theory. There is not a lot of biographical information, but plenty of theory put into practice. He talks about major events that could have influenced America's economy if they were not handled properly. The best part of the book was at the end where he dealt with some of the pressing issues that America is facing today. He talks about the oil issue and some of the issues with India and China. At the end of the book, he gives his predictions for the future. He sees increased pressure on inflation because as the Chinese market grows, which has been providing cheap labor for America products, the flow of workers into the factory will slow which will put pressure on demand for qualified labor. This will have a major impact on the inflation rate. This book is not for everyone, maybe not even me, but it certainly expanded my understanding of the engine of economic development within America.
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on January 29, 2017
Interesting per se, but I just felt this was way too long and way too repetitive. Worth four stars if you only read the first half.
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on December 5, 2007
The book has a good account of Alan Greenspan's early life.

The real value of the work is in his understanding of U.S. economy and those of countries of the world.

He gives great insight into politics and politicians.

I would suggest reading it with pencil in hand; not only for marking text but copying words and phrases.

He brings great wit to a very complex discipline.

It will be a memorable read and a credible addition to any library.
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on March 5, 2011
I listened to this CD set in 2006, a year before the financial collapse. I actually listened to it several times because it was while I was driving or cooking and so I didn't get everything the first couple of times. I learned a great deal about our financial and economic systems from the viewpoint of Alan Greenspan. The early chapters are just fun -- about his childhood. The later chapters are harder to follow -- about economics, but I learned lots, particularly because I looked things up on the Internet that I didn't understand. After the financial collapse of 2008, I could bring a great deal of understanding to bear when listening to explanations of what had happened. I was very familiar with the Greenspan "free market" views and could see how they played a role in the collapse. I'm so glad I listened to the audiobook because it helped explain what we were all living through. And of course, I learned tons about the financial world and macroeconomics. It's important to get many views about our world. Greenspan is a wonderful writer, and I highly recommend his memoirs.
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on February 3, 2017
Not only does the book provide a good lesson on how global economics works, it also provides a great history of US economics across several decades. Alan Greenspan also proved to be a very interesting person along with being highly intelligent.
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