Drew Fetherston,
Greed & Its Rewards
(Red Rock, 2000)

A review is rarely in danger of being longer than its subject; but then, a book is rarely as brief as Greed & Its Rewards. Drew Fetherston has assembled a brief sketch of one of our most popular modern vices, drawing on anecdotes and aphorisms to make ... well, anyone else might attempt to make a point. The stories and factoids here are neatly divided up into categories -- "Fortune's Gods," "Telling Tales," "Con Classics" -- but Fetherston avoids moralizing. Here's some news about greed, make up your own mind about it.

It's hard to figure out exactly what market Greed is aimed at. Its neutral tone keeps it out of the morality market; it's far too brief to provide any real analysis of the effect of this vice. The trivia is interesting, but not obscure or deep enough to be of any help to a serious trivia buff.

This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy it. Greed has plenty of fun little tidbits; I particularly enjoyed learning about the Ponzi scheme, a bit of cultural reference I never understood before. It's just that there's nothing more here than little bits of trivia, loosely grouped into categories. This is a book that can be read and enjoyed during television commercial breaks. In fact, this is a book that can be thoroughly discussed between commercial breaks. Open it to some random factoid, make tsking sounds about the state of man's soul, and ask your companions if they've heard about, say, Hetty Green.

Then say you'll tell them ... for a buck.

[ by Sarah Meador ]
Rambles: 16 June 2002

Buy it from Amazon.com.