I started reading this book shortly after it came out and read it in a few days. I generally thought it was interesting, but the quick read did not let most of the second half of the book sink in very far. I decided to read back through it again. I am still working on the second half, but I wanted to post a few thoughts on the first half.
The Age of Turbulence is really two books in one. The first half is more of a historical memoir. It goes into depth about Greenspan’s personal life and FED life as a means of providing a contest. Having read Bob Woodward’s Maestro, I thought Greenspan’s own recounts were not that much more insightful. For course, the reader does get a personal perspective on the events, but this section was written in a, for lack of a better word, “political” way. By this I mean, Greenspan plays up the events and the text comes off as rather sugar coated, rosy, with a little too much arrogance. I did not feel like I got a critical view of anything new. The comments on each of the presidents he worked with was interesting, but also that a sugar coated feel to the text.
The second half of the book is where the good stuff lives. I am not sure the first half is necessary, given the other work that is out there about Greenspan’s work at the FED. A two chapter introduction and starting the book at chapter 12 would have been fine with me. Although not as marketable, I am sure. The second half of the book really starts to dive into the underlying thoughts and perspective of Greenspan’s thinking on the domestic and global economy. Regardless of what you think about globalization, capitalism, etc., Greenspan’s insight is an important one to have. Mainly due to the fact that it has been a dominant force on the global stage for almost 20 years.
I want to tease the second half of the book out further here over the next few weeks. I want this to be a brief overview, leading into a more critical conversation about the second half of the book. If you are interested in economics, political history, or capitalism, I would encourage you to pick this up. Below are some of the MANY interviews Greenspan did trying to “sell” the book.