Nothing but a Circus: Misadventures Among the Powerful

Daniel Levin. Penguin UK, $16.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-141-98464-3
Lawyer Levin shares true tales of his encounters with influential figures that expose the prevalence of deceit, incompetence, and corruption in contemporary corridors of power. In Texas, he’s duped into a taking a meeting that turns out to be a desperate, bizarre plea for him to fund an evangelical group’s acquisition of a college campus; in Dubai, a sketchy character uses flattery and lies to get in touch with a powerful sheikh Levin knows; he finds out an outspoken member of the opposition in Russia is really a sleeper-cell stooge for Putin; a U.S. State Department official casually tells him—“with a sense of entitlement, and... of impunity”—about his agency’s corrupt practices; a friend shamelessly requests Levin’s participation in cutting his partner out of a deal; and more. But Levin’s reminiscence also includes positive examples of wisdom and humility. For example, after giving a lecture in Angola on Adam Smith and political economy, he visits a vibrant and complex underground market and is immediately humbled (“What had started as a presumption of my knowledge and the Angolans’ ignorance had ended in the realization of their knowledge and my ignorance”). These revealing stories of absurdity are simultaneously captivating, humorous, and distressing. (July)
Reviewed on: 06/11/2018
Release date: 02/27/2018
Paperback - 208 pages - 978-0-241-29971-5
Hardcover - 208 pages - 978-0-241-28853-5
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