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Red Plenty

2014/09/09

Following my streak of reading dystopic governance books, I just finished Red Plenty on the Kindle. The main difference being that this book is not about a science fiction dystopia, but about the Soviet Union during the Khrushchev era, where there was a real effort on competing with capitalists on their own ground.

And you know what else? The main heroes of the book are real, interesting people, like Kantorovich, the Nobel prize winner from USSR, one of the inventors of Linear Programming. I also wonder how many in CS have ever heard of Lebedev, a true computing pioneer whose plans were stopped by politics as it seems. People interested in Optimization will find great many stories to talk about. As those interested in Cybernetic failures.

Whether you are a socialist or a liberal, you need to read the book. Central planning fails. We know that. See some of the reasons why. Politics, mediocrity, privileged classes of citizens, blind faith in science and ways to trick the system bigtime, they all parade through the book. Go read the book. I want to thank @iamreddave for bringing it to my attention years ago.

One minor annoyance: In the Kindle version when you reach the appendix, there is a garbling in the paging. Apart from that you will love the Kindle dictionary. For this book I consulted it a thousand times maybe.

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