About

I work in tech and write about a lot of things. The pieces below are a record of my cultural experiences and my pieces on global trade.

I’ve previously worked at Flexport, Shopify, the Huffington Post (where I was assistant to Radley Balko), the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a few other places. I graduated from the University of Rochester with a double-major in economics and philosophy. The best way to learn about my interests is to scroll through the “writing” section immediately below, and the “books I like” section in the header of this menu.

I currently live and work in Manhattan. I’ve previously lived in Kunming, Toronto, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Rochester, Freiburg im Breisgau, and San Francisco. I’m a Canadian citizen who wants to visit the rest of the Commonwealth, especially New Zealand. Someday I’d like to return and live in Germany.

I love hearing from people. Email me: danwyd@gmail.com And say hi on Twitter: @danwwang

Writing

Some of the longer posts published here:

Published reporting, both about cases that were petitioned to the Supreme Court. The first was granted review:

Shorter pieces published here, my current favorites are marked with (*):

Three of my pieces I wrote for Flexport:

Three of my favorite pieces I wrote for Shopify:

I spent four months living in Germany. (Freiburg, in Baden-Württemberg; by the Black Forest, close to Stuttgart, Strasbourg, and most of the major cities in Switzerland.) Here are a few posts about these travels:

Reflections:

Books I Like

The books I liked since around the time I started college. I try to excerpt the ones I like best.

What should I read next? Email me! danwyd@gmail.com

  • Stendhal, The Red and the Black
  • Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (Excerpts)
  • Melville, Moby-Dick
  • Cowen, In Praise of Commercial Culture
    • The book that convinced me to study economics. (Notes)
  • Wharton, The House of Mirth
    • I enjoyed this much more than Age of Innocence.
    • The title is from Ecclesiastes 7:4: “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.”
  • Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty
  • Ross, The Rest is Noise
    • Runs through the personalities of the 20th century. My favorite book on music.
  • Epstein, Simple Rules for a Complex World
  • Proust, Swann’s Way, trans. Lydia Davis (Excerpts)
  • Thiel & Masters, CS 183 notes & Zero to One (related essay)
    • If you must pick one, read the lecture notes. The radicalism of the ideas were mainstreamed for the book.
  • Schelling, Micromotives and Macrobehavior, The Strategy of Conflict
  • Friedman, The Machinery of Freedom
  • Laozi, Dao De Jing (Excerpts)
    • A book about humility.
  • Mann, 1491
  • Cowen, Discover Your Inner Economist
    • The best of the pop-econ books. (Harford comes next, then Frank, Wheelan, and Landsburg. All of these are better than Freakonomics, which won’t teach you very much about economics at all.)
  • Mallaby, More Money Than God (related essay)
  • Gertner, The Idea Factory
    • History of the place that labs that developed radar, transistors, satellites, cell phone telephony, and more.
  • Adelman, Worldly Philosopher: The Odyssey of Albert O. Hirschman (Notes)
  • Stendhal, The Charterhouse of Parma
  • Ridley, The Rational Optimist
    • A wonderful book about the scientific achievements that’s given us better nutrition, longer lifespans, and easier access to energy, etc.
  • Plato, Dialogues
    • In particular Crito and Phaedo.
  • Cowen, The Great Stagnation & Average is Over (Excerpts)
  • Wolfe, Bonfire of the Vanities (Excerpts)
  • Fontane, Effi Briest (trans. Ritchie Robertson)
    • There’s so much nuance; the most exciting plot detail isn’t even described, only discussed afterwards.
  • Balzac, Cousin Bette
  • The Gladwell books
    • The best is definitely David and Goliath (Excerpts).
    • Go ahead and disagree with his inferences, but where else would you find packed together so many great stories you haven’t heard of, and wouldn’t hear of if not for him?
    • If you still object to his ideas, read him because he’s a great writer.
  • Ford, Lights in the Tunnel
  • Zweig, Beware of Pity
  • Doherty, Radicals for Capitalism
    • Details the rise of the American libertarian movement. Serious study, but the personalities are so crazy that it’s fun to read.
  • Capote, Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Excerpts)
  • Frank, The Economic Naturalist
    • Short stories about the economic way of thinking.
  • Isaacson, Steve Jobs
  • Shakespeare: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, Othello
  • Packer, The Unwinding
    • (Excerpts, with a focus on the Thiel story)
  • Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Rand, Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead
  • Duffy, The World as I Found It
    • A novel about the interactions of Russell, Wittgenstein, and G.E. Moore. Very fun.
  • Kafka, The Castle, The Metamorphosis, assorted short stories
  • Williams, Stoner
  • Harford, The Undercover Economist
    • Best parts were the sections about price discrimination.
  • Nabokov, Lolita
  • Caplan, The Myth of the Rational Voter
  • Zola, Germinal
  • Taleb, The Black Swan
  • Landsburg, The Armchair Economist
  • Dennett, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea
  • Wharton, The Age of Innocence
  • Haidt, The Righteous Mind
    • Kevin Simler put it best: “How humans actually, empirically, think about morality.”
  • Cowen & Grandin, Thinking Differently (Notes)
  • Baker, Days of Fire (Notes)
  • Lewis, The Big Short
  • Arrison, 100 Plus
  • Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
  • Monroe: Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship
  • McCloskey, Bourgeois Virtues & Bourgeois Dignity
    • First 50 pages of the Apology in Virtues is most worth reading.
  • McArdle, The Up Side of Down (Excerpts)
  • Heinlein, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
  • Conrad, Heart of Darkness
  • Knausgaard, Min Kamp Vol. 1
    • Uncomfortable, mesmerizing.
  • Lewis, Liar’s Poker (Excerpts)
  • Wapshott, Keynes Hayek
  • Heilbroner, The Worldly Philosophers
    • The first economics-y book I read; I spent two years of undergrad wondering when we were going to cover Thorstein Veblen.
  • Thaler & Sunstein, Nudge
    • Super well argued, I couldn’t continue to be a knee-jerk skeptic.
  • St. Aubyn, Patrick Melrose series (Excerpts)
  • When I was little I read most of the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I really liked them, but haven’t picked any of them up again.

(Chronological from here…)

  • Stephenson, Cryptonomicon
    • A lot of science wrapped in a thrilling story.
  • Cumings, The Korean War (Excerpts)
  • Glover, Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century
  • Cowen, An Economist Gets Lunch
  • Cirincione, Bomb Scare
  • Kaplan, Wizards of Armageddon
  • Lewis, Boomerang
    • More fun than The Big Short, not quite as good as Liar’s Poker.
  • Roberts, The Storm of War
    • Really engrossing read on key battles and personalities in WWII.
  • Flynn, Gone Girl
  • Brecht, The Threepenny Opera
    • Translated by Ralph Manheim, try to go see it in original German.
  • Herman, How the Scots Invented the Modern World
  • Rilke, Duino Elegies, trans. Stephen Mitchell
  • Wolfe, The Right Stuff (related essay)
  • Lovecraft, At the Mountains of Madness
  • Judt, Memory Chalet
    • Excellent essays on growing up in ’50s/’60s Europe.
  • Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. J.E. Woods
    • First 150 pages or so are stultifying, but it picks up. The ruminations on death/dying make it worth it.
  • Glass, Music Without Words: A Memoir (related essay)
  • Sebald, Austerlitz
  • Stephenson, The Diamond Age
    • I tweeted: “Wow, does anyone mix fun and deep as well as Neal Stephenson can?” Maybe I just don’t read enough science fiction, but Stephenson’s world is so fun and immersive. Plus, you feel like you’re learning a lot.
  • Palaver, René Girard’s Mimetic Theory (related essay)
  • George, Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping
    • Pretty much the perfect nonfiction book: many, many interesting facts weaved into a narrative story; and it’s slim, not going overboard with too much detail.
  • Benford, The Wonderful Future that Never Was (related essay)
  • Watson, The German Genius (related essay)
  • Wharton, Ethan Frome
  • The Box, Marc Levinson (I now work at a company that arranges for air and ocean freight)
  • Dick, The Man in the High Castle
  • Scurlock, King Larry: The Life and Ruins of a Billionaire Genius
  • Parsons, The British Imperial Century
  • Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945
    • The war from the perspective of the German population. One interesting fact: A quarter of Goebbel’s budget was spent on theatre, which was about as much as he spent on propaganda, and more than twice as much on film.
  • Pomeranz and Topik, The World That Trade Created
  • Chang, Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
  • Koestenbaum, The Queen’s Throat
    • A remarkable book; this is how you write about opera.
  • Yip & McKern, China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation
  • Vance, Elon Musk
  • Tombs, The English And Their History (related essay)
  • DeWitt, Lightning Rods
  • Herman, To Rule the Waves: How the British Navy Shaped the Modern World
  • Liu, The Three Body Problem (related essay)
  • Liu, The Dark Forest
  • Foldenyi, Melancholy (related essay)
  • Liu, Death’s End
  • Kroeber, China’s Economy: What Everyone Needs to Know

Miscellany

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