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Thomas Piketty Has Learned a Thing or Two About Capitalism

In a collection of previously published work, the celebrity economist argues for taxing the rich and rescuing the EU.

Thomas Piketty’s Why Save the Bankers? is the perfect accoutrement for a Bernie Sanders rally. At 210 pages, it’s easier to carry through a crowd than the economist’s 685-page best-seller of two years ago, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Its title signals that it’s more irascible than the rather academic Capital, too, and more like Sanders when he’s on a roll: Why save the bankers, indeed?

Reading your copy of Why Save the Bankers? (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $26) is optional, of course. There’s circumstantial evidence from Kindle that few buyers of Capital made it past the intro. What you’ll find if you do dip in is a collection of 48 short pieces—the subtitle is And Other Essays on Our Economic and Political Crisis—originally published in Libération, the center-left French newspaper. The topics range from Piketty’s hopes for President-elect Obama, to the Greek financial crisis, to whether the single-currency euro zone can hang together. (Lots on that last topic, actually.) Some essays have italicized prefaces for the benefit of American readers who may not remember every detail of, say, the Liliane Bettencourt affair.