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Editorial Reviews of Back to the Futures

I can now say with all sincerity that I fully understand the nervousness that authors feel when they open up a book review. I’m not talking about the reviews on Amazon, as important as they are. I am talking about an editorial review from one of the major book review services that hires outside reviewers to write independent reviews. Kirkus Reviews is one of the best-known sources of editorial reviews in the book publishing world and it is highly influential. So, you might imagine how many butterflies were flying around in my stomach the other day when I got an email saying that the Kirkus review of my book Back to the Futures was finished.

My fears quickly melted away as I read through the review, as the Kirkus reviewer really liked the book. Here is a sample:

“Irwin tells three parallel stories in this eclectic memoir: his wild risk-taking as a youth, the nature of futures speculation as a kind of rationally managed embracing of risk, and his own experience as an agricultural economist defending futures speculation. This last element forms the core of the memoir: As a counterpoint to the popular caricature of futures speculators as “villains” who befoul the market through their “sinister manipulations,” he accessibly presents them as necessary and largely helpful participants in the market… In the main, Irwin convincingly argues, they assist the market in the management and distribution of risk, inject much-needed liquidity, and, since they must contend with considerable exposure to financial danger, they enhance the market’s overall rationality. Irwin’s outline of the futures market is remarkably clear and should be comprehensible even for those with a modest background in economics. The text is written in an engaging, personal, anecdotal style that adds a human element to material that, by its very nature, threatens to become academically dry; it’s hard to imagine a more enjoyably readable book about the subject.”

You can read the entire Kirkus review here: BACK TO THE FUTURES | Kirkus Reviews.

I also recently received an email notifying me that the review of Back to the Futures from Blue Ink Reviews was finished. Blue Ink is a newer source of editorial book reviews than Kirkus, but it is growing in popularity. Here is a sample from this review:

“Irwin’s approach to his subject is oblique, charming, and effective. Unlike a typical finance author, he shares stories of risky behavior and near-death experiences from his younger days, using each as a launching pad for another lesson about commodities futures. That format, which might seem to risk being clunky or contrived, instead flows smoothly and offers suspense, humor, and real-world action—even including examples from popular movies to illuminate the workings of the futures market—to balance out the intellectual side of the book. The prose is delivered in a strong, knowledgeable, yet humble voice that paints a vivid picture of young Irwin’s town, friends, and neighbors…Irwin has a gift for clear, simple examples, as when he explains “cornering the market” through the popular card game of Hearts… In all, Back to the Futures is a unique, fun, and educational guide to understanding commodities futures.”

You can read the entire Blue Ink review here: Back to the Futures: Crashing Dirt Bikes, Chasing Cows and Unravelling the Mystery of Commodity Futures Markets – BlueInk Review.

Obviously, I am super happy that both reviewers liked the book! I was equally impressed with the quality of the review comments. The reviewers really seemed to “get” what I was trying to accomplish with the book. I wanted Back to the Futures to be a fun and entertaining way to learn about commodity futures markets. The top line of the Kirkus Review is, “An entertaining and instructive blend of economic theory and personal remembrance.” The Blue Ink reviewer said that Back to the Futures is “oblique, charming, and effective.” While “oblique” might seem like a funny word to use to praise the book, it actually makes perfect sense. Oblique means “slanted” or “not perpendicular,” which is a clever way of describing the indirect approach I take to drawing people into learning about commodity futures markets. I believe I can state with some real satisfaction, mission accomplished.

Back to the Futures is available in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats on Amazon and many other book sites. The Amazon page can be found here: Back to the Futures: Crashing Dirt Bikes, Chasing Cows, and Unraveling the Mystery of Commodity Futures Markets: 9798218121938: Irwin, Scott, Peterson, Doug.

Laurence J. Norton Chair of Agricultural Marketing
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


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