(p. 6) Do you and your wife, the activist and writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, share similar taste in books? What books has she recommended to you, and vice versa?
Very similar, so books frequently cross the bedroom from one nightstand to the other. A good example was Hayek’s “The Constitution of Liberty,” her favorite work of political philosophy, which she urged me to read.
. . .
Which books do you think capture the current social and political moment in America?
I shared the widespread enthusiasm for J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” last year, but the must-read book for Trump’s election and presidency remains Charles Murray’s astonishingly prescient “Coming Apart.” I wish the contemptible “students” who disrupted his lecture at Middlebury College earlier this year — not one of whom I’ll bet had ever read a word of his — would read “Coming Apart” and then look in the mirror and realize: “Oh God, I’m a member of that loathsome coastal cognitive elite that is completely out of touch with middle America.”
. . .
Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel as if you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
. . . To give an example of a book I found overrated, Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” was both conceptually unsound and tediously executed.
For the full interview, see:
(Note: ellipses added, bold in original. Bold questions are by the anonymous NYT interviewer. Unbold answers are by Niall Ferguson.)
(Note: the online version of the interview has the date Jan. 11, 2018, and has the same title as the print version. The last question and answer quoted above, appeared in the online, but not in the print, version. Neither version gives the name of the interviewer.)
Ayann Hirsi Ali’s favorite political philosophy book, mentioned above, is:
Hayek, Friedrich A. The Constitution of Liberty. Reprint ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011 (1st ed. 1960).