Review of An Army of Davids by Glenn Reynolds

By: Heleen
On: October 9, 2006
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book cover an army of davids

The complete title is: An Army of Davids. How markets and technology empower ordinary people to beat big media, big government and other Goliaths.

Glenn Reynolds is a professor in Law at the University of Tennessee. He is a well-known blogger and his blog can be found here: . His main interest are advanced technologies and individual liberty.

I found the book “An Army of Davids” rather difficult to read, because I missed a structure in the book. Before reading the book I read the summary of the book on the cover and that did not provide enough help to guide me through the book. A lot of chapters had nothing to do with empowering the common guy, in my opinion. And that made it hard to read.

For me as a master student in new media 80% of the book was familiar, 10% was not interesting to me and only the last 10% was interesting, unfortunately this was at the end of the book! I found the conclusions to be very interesting, because here Reynolds finally gave his own clear view of what will happen in the future. I can give an example of that: in the first couple of chapters Reynolds was very negative about the big Goliaths, like big companies and big media. And he glorified the common guy having more power. And in the conclusions Reynolds explains that he believes in the Goliaths to working together with the Davids, which is a lot more realistic than “the end of the Goliaths”, the common guy is taking over… In his book I found it annoying that most of the time when he talks about media, like newspapers, radio and television, it was in a negative way. I didn’t think that was very objective; big media and big companies have bad sides to them, but they also offer a lot of good things.

Another chapter I did not agree with, was the chapter about terrorism. In this chapter Reynolds calls for people with a gun license to wear their guns more often and to use it in case of a terrorist attack. I could not believe a law professor telling people to take the law in their own hands!

I don’t know what type of readers Reynolds had in mind when he was writing the book, but it most definately were not scholars, or college students. In some chapters he addresses the reader in a child like manner, explaining the obvious. Things that are so common known that they should not even be said. F.e. in the first chapter Reynolds explained how cavemen work together and how people worked in factories in the Industrial Revolution.

In the chapter about terrorism he writes:” think about what information is valuable to authorities (in case of a terrorist attack)- exactly what you’re seeing… (example:”there are four guys wearing black, they’ve shot several people, and they’re carrying AK-47s and pistols” is a lot more useful than “there are some guys shooting!” or “Help! It’s terrorists!”) … Please don’t state the obvious… In some cases I did not understand HOW the things that Reynolds talked about was empowering common people. Quote from the book: “one of the ways in which technology is empowering ordinary people involves helping us to live longer“. I don’t see how people have more power, just because they are living longer… that’s not an a priory fact. However, a posteriori it might be true for a lot of people… In this chapter he also says that people are healthier and therefore want to continue working longer….. well, this is absolutely not true in the Netherlands. And anyone who has followed the AOW discussion has only heard people express there feelings of retiring earlier than 65 and most definately not when they are 70…. or older… (Reynolds explained that people live longer, are healthier and are more fit than a 100 years ago, when the retirement age was set at 65 by Bismarck. Therefore people want to work longer and the retirement age should be changed to 70 f.e.)

Concluding: I had a hard time reading this book. Most of it I already knew, a lot of times I was irritated that the writer was not being objective about the goliaths, sometimes he talked to the reader as if the reader was mentally challenged and I missed an overall structure.

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