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Review: The Bullies of Wall Street

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In my massive accumulation of books when Hastings closed, I found an interesting book called “The Bullies of Wall Street: This is How Greed Messed up Our Economy”by Sheila Bair, former chair of the FDIC.

I grabbed this without really looking into it, because I have my own opinions on our economy and I wanted to see an expert’s perspective. I didn’t realize this is a children’s book, meant to explain the economic collapse of 2009 (and surrounding years) to kids.

Overall, I think this book does a great job of introducing kids to financial terms and concepts. The first section shows fictional anecdotes of how children and their families were affected by the collapse, and then explains the economical factors that led to their situations. All of these stories have a happy ending, which I thought was unnecessary, but I understand why that choice was made.

The section of the book I enjoyed the most was where Bair talks about her time as head of the FDIC. She explains several key positions and entities, as well as how parts of the legislative process works. This is definitely written with her opinions as the main bias, but I feel she stays pretty neutral about many things. She talks about how she disagreed with certain people and policies, but also saw some reasoning in what they did. She also explains that a lot of differences stem from priorities. She felt the FDIC needed to protect consumers, while others felt that protecting banks would lead to better outcomes for consumers. I remember some of the bank buyouts she refers to and it was very interesting to find out more information about the behind-the-scenes happenings.

I think this book would be great for educating kids and refreshing adults on many financial and economic concepts. I didn’t learn a lot of new information in terms of broad knowledge, but I did learn some things about specific banks and government officials that I didn’t know. I thought this was informative and interesting, while being a very easy, accessible read.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King

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I haven’t read a lot of Stephen King. I own a lot of his books, as my husband’s mom buys them for us all the time, but both of us have only read a few. I’ve read On Writing and The Shining, and now The Gunslinger.

The Gunslinger is the first book in King’s Darktower Series. I think this is the closest King ever really gets to sci-fi. King intended Darktower to be an epic, his magnum opus, and it certainly is impressive in scope.

This first book does not explain a lot about the world it takes place in, but it does give the reader enough information so that they’re not confused. It’s a great beginning, and it really does just set the stage for the rest of the books. I’ve heard that the first 4 books are the best, so I will definitely be reading all of those, but I don’t know yet whether I’ll finish the series, which I’ve heard drags on a bit in the later books.

They’re making a Gunslinger movie, and I really wish they were making a miniseries instead. The sections of the book are really each their own scene, each of which would make a great episode of its own in a series.

King sets the scene really well visually, and characterizes Roland really well while still keeping a lot of details in the dark. I read the original version, but I would probably recommend reading King’s edited version, where he fixed a few inconsistencies. The world the book takes place in has some references to our own, especially in the form of Beatles songs, but technology is very different and for the most part lacking. There is also a bit of magic and some references to gods/supernatural beings. For the most part, this book shows us this world, but none of the “why things are the way they are”. I imagine much of that will come later.

If you like fantasy and you haven’t read The Darktower series, I would definitely recommend checking it out, as it’s really engaging and interesting.