RISK AND OTHER FOUR-LETTER WORDS by Walter B. Wriston

RISK AND OTHER FOUR-LETTER WORDS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Perhaps because their authors perceive a need for immediacy and impact, even telling public addresses may not qualify as wholly satisfactory essays. This collection of speeches delivered by Wriston, Citicorp's former CEO, in the course of his distinguished career as an international banker affords a case in point. Wriston has a lively, inquiring mind, which he employs to persuasive effect in the causes of free enterprise, equitable competition, and individual liberties. A central theme of the pieces included here is that risk--an integral element of socioeconomic progress--can be curbed (albeit not completely controlled) only at the hazard of Big Brotherly bureaucracies. A corollary article of faith in the Wriston canon is that government intervention in the market invariably leads to a variety of woes, including misallocated resources, a devaluation of enterprise, and loss of initiative. In defense of his libertarian principles, Wriston calls upon an impressive array of oddly coupled witnesses--Gertrude Stein, Thomas Hobbes, George Orwell, Niccolo Machiavelli, Lewis Carroll, Adam Smith, Woodrow Wilson, G.K. Chesterton, et al. Brief borrowings from eminent sources are a time-honored means of shorthand communication from the podium. On the printed page, unfortunately, a surfeit of such citations seems more a tribute to John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations than evidence of systematic consideration of substance. In brief, then, opinionated commentary whose deftness does not overcome a lack of depth.

Pub Date: Feb. 19th, 1985
Publisher: Harper & Row