Initially I planned to start the book by admitting that I was not a true expert on high finance: instead I crashed into this world in 2005, after a background spent in journalism-cum-social anthropology – making me a well-intentioned amateur, but without complete knowledge.
My friends in the British publishing world loved that honesty; in the UK, self-deprecation sells, particularly for “well-meaning amateurs” such as the writer Bill Bryson. But my American friends hated it. In New York, I was sternly told, absolutely nobody wants to listen to self-doubt. If you are going to write a book – let alone stand on a political platform or run a company – you must act as if you are an expert, filled with complete conviction. For the US version, the preface was removed entirely.Based on conversations I've had with publishers, marketers, and publicists, this rings sadly true to me. Which raises discouraging questions about the long-term future of book publishing in America. After all, what are serious non-fiction books for if not to explore the subtle nuances of complex topics? If Americans have little tolerance for the uncertainty and ambiguity that is inherent in such exploration--preferring, I suppose, the shout-'em-down self-righteousness of cable-TV "debates"--then why bother reading books at all?