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[personal profile] slowfox
This is the book of Kyle MacDonald's CraigsList scheme to trade up successive items, starting with a red paperclip until he reached his target of a house of his own.

The book isn't really about the relative values of the respective trades he engages in - instead, he tries to concentrate on the personalities involved, which is at least slightly refreshing, but I'm not sure that the whole thing really is a zero-sum game. Kyle gets a lot of good luck, and also has incredibly accommodating family and friends in the scheme, which certainly help him out.

The book's also let-down, IMHO, by the pseudo-zen witterings at the end of each chapter... they just set my teeth on edge.

On the other hand, it is a positive tale (at the risk of spoiling, yes, he did end up with a house), and he managed to complete the whole chain, from red paperclip to roof over his head, in fourteen trades and within a journalistically imposed 12 month deadline.

Obviously, he benefitted from being the first person to explicitly state that he was intending to trade from something of trivial value to a home of his own, but he also utterly embraced the media in his quest... people trying to follow in his footsteps surely wouldn't be so lucky, because that story's been done now.

And I do also wonder whether having a house that required both Kyle and his girlfriend to up sticks and move across the country was necessarily a wholly positive thing, assuming that they both had to find new employment in their pasture new...

So... it's a pretty self-indulgent book, because even if he dresses up his professed interest in securing the best deal for his trading partners in terms of personal value rather than a pure balance sheet, ultimately the whole tale is still about him trading up from a red paperclip to get himself a house. For, effectively, the cost of a paperclip (plus a whole stackload of travel that he glosses over).

On the other hand, it is an entertaining and original tale. Just not that deep.
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