FREAKONOMICS: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

Steven D. Levitt, Author, Stephen J. Dubner, Author
Steven D. Levitt, Author, Stephen J. Dubner, Author . Morrow $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-073132-8
Reviewed on: 03/14/2005
Release date: 05/01/2005
Paperback - 311 pages - 978-0-06-089637-9
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-06-113132-5
Compact Disc - 7 pages
Paperback - 476 pages - 978-0-06-124513-8
Paperback - 978-84-96581-81-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-084296-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-06-084295-6
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-1-84614-564-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-06-077613-8
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-0-14-101901-7
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Forget your image of an economist as a crusty professor worried about fluctuating interest rates: Levitt focuses his attention on more intimate real-world issues, like whether reading to your baby will make her a better student. Recognition by fellow economists as one of the best young minds in his field led to a profile in the New York Times , written by Dubner, and that original article serves as a broad outline for an expanded look at Levitt's search for the hidden incentives behind all sorts of behavior. There isn't really a grand theory of everything here, except perhaps the suggestion that self-styled experts have a vested interest in promoting conventional wisdom even when it's wrong. Instead, Dubner and Levitt deconstruct everything from the organizational structure of drug-dealing gangs to baby-naming patterns. While some chapters might seem frivolous, others touch on more serious issues, including a detailed look at Levitt's controversial linkage between the legalization of abortion and a reduced crime rate two decades later. Underlying all these research subjects is a belief that complex phenomena can be understood if we find the right perspective. Levitt has a knack for making that principle relevant to our daily lives, which could make this book a hit. Malcolm Gladwell blurbs that Levitt "has the most interesting mind in America," an invitation Gladwell's own substantial fan base will find hard to resist. 50-city radio campaign. (May 1)

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