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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

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Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Cover

ISBN13: 9780060731328
ISBN10: 006073132x
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Dustjacket: Standard
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Staff Pick

"What makes this book fascinating is the way that Levitt uses advanced economic techniques — the kind that would knock me unconscious quicker than chloroform if I had to read them in a textbook — and applies them to seemingly unexplainable phenomena to produce a new discipline: the answers to questions once thought unanswerable. The answers make for a highly addictive reading experience, free of the jargon and pie charts that would send most readers running for cover."
Recommended by Gerry, Powells.com

Bookstores have been flooded with popular economics books since the publication of the wildly popular Freakonomics. Although The Undercover Economist was not the first to market, it should have been. Told in a genuinely engaging style, it puts the microeconomics rubber to the road, or more accurately stated, to your wallet. Ever wonder why you are willing to spend four bucks on a latte? This is the book to read while you drink it.
Recommended by Lorraine, Powells.com

"What makes this book fascinating is the way that Levitt uses advanced economic techniques — the kind that would knock me unconscious quicker than chloroform if I had to read them in a textbook — and applies them to seemingly unexplainable phenomena to produce a new discipline: the answers to questions once thought unanswerable. The answers make for a highly addictive reading experience, free of the jargon and pie charts that would send most readers running for cover."
Recommended by Gerry, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life — from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing — and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives — how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and — if the right questions are asked — is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to see through all the clutter.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

Review:

"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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America....Prepare to be dazzled." Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink and The Tipping Point

Review:

"[An] excellent, readable book..." Booklist

Review:

"It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of Freakonomics, the presumption is earned." Jim Holt, The New York York Times

Review:

"If Indiana Jones were an economist, he'd be Steven Levitt....Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae." Wall Street Journal

Review:

"The familiar Gladwell manner — a kind of breezy drifting from one entertaining anecdote to the next, floating effortlessly past references to contemporary social-science research — gets recycled here into what can only be called a style of evasive lucidity." Newsday

Book News Annotation:

Levitt (economics, U. of Chicago) and writing collaborator Dubner (a writer for the New York Times and The New Yorker) dub the material in this work "freakonomics" because Levitt uses analytical tools from economics to address a range of questions that, at first glance, might seem to be far removed from the discipline of the "dismal science." They consider questions such as how to determine if teachers are aiding in students' cheating on standardized tests, the impact of information asymmetry on the operation of the Ku Klux Klan, how the organizational structure of crack gangs resemble other businesses, and the influence of parents on child development.
Annotation 2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

From cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing, a rogue economist and his co-writer offer a view of how the world really works. Winner of the American Economic Association's 2003 John Bates Clark Medal.

Synopsis:

Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life-; from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing-; and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives-; how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and-; if the right questions are asked-; is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to seethrough all the clutter.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

About the Author

Steven D. Levitt teaches economics at the University of Chicago; he recently received the John Bates Clark Medal, awarded every two years to the best American economist under forty.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

Smooth Sailing, January 5, 2010 (view all comments by Smooth Sailing)
I love this book because his theories are so different. They are the type of theories you bring up at a dinner party and start interesting conversations with.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Torrie Bordokoff, January 3, 2010 (view all comments by Torrie Bordokoff)
As a student in economics, I found this book not only extremely useful and thoughtfully stimulating but also full of awesome every day trivia. Freakonomics took away my fear of mathematical economics and showed me that true economics is far more than numbers and curves. Mr. Levitt definitely made life come alive!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
mitusarbe, June 11, 2008 (view all comments by mitusarbe)
Innovative title.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(7 of 13 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 9 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060731328
Subtitle:
A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
Author:
Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Author:
Dubner, Stephen J.
Author:
Levitt, Steven D.
Publisher:
William Morrow
Subject:
General
Subject:
Economic Conditions
Subject:
Economics - Theory
Subject:
Popular Culture - General
Subject:
General Business & Economics
Copyright:
Publication Date:
May 2005
Binding:
Hardcover
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
9.30x6.40x.82 in. .99 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
Reference » Science Reference » General

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything Used Hardcover
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 256 pages William Morrow & Company - English 9780060731328 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

"What makes this book fascinating is the way that Levitt uses advanced economic techniques — the kind that would knock me unconscious quicker than chloroform if I had to read them in a textbook — and applies them to seemingly unexplainable phenomena to produce a new discipline: the answers to questions once thought unanswerable. The answers make for a highly addictive reading experience, free of the jargon and pie charts that would send most readers running for cover."

"Staff Pick" by ,

Bookstores have been flooded with popular economics books since the publication of the wildly popular Freakonomics. Although The Undercover Economist was not the first to market, it should have been. Told in a genuinely engaging style, it puts the microeconomics rubber to the road, or more accurately stated, to your wallet. Ever wonder why you are willing to spend four bucks on a latte? This is the book to read while you drink it.

"Staff Pick" by ,

"What makes this book fascinating is the way that Levitt uses advanced economic techniques — the kind that would knock me unconscious quicker than chloroform if I had to read them in a textbook — and applies them to seemingly unexplainable phenomena to produce a new discipline: the answers to questions once thought unanswerable. The answers make for a highly addictive reading experience, free of the jargon and pie charts that would send most readers running for cover."

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "An eye-opening, and most interesting, approach to the world."
"Review" by , "Steven Levitt has the most interesting mind in America....Prepare to be dazzled."
"Review" by , "[An] excellent, readable book..."
"Review" by , "It might appear presumptuous of Steven Levitt to see himself as an all-purpose intellectual detective, fit to take on whatever puzzle of human behavior grabs his fancy. But on the evidence of Freakonomics, the presumption is earned."
"Review" by , "If Indiana Jones were an economist, he'd be Steven Levitt....Criticizing Freakonomics would be like criticizing a hot fudge sundae."
"Review" by , "The familiar Gladwell manner — a kind of breezy drifting from one entertaining anecdote to the next, floating effortlessly past references to contemporary social-science research — gets recycled here into what can only be called a style of evasive lucidity."
"Synopsis" by , From cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing, a rogue economist and his co-writer offer a view of how the world really works. Winner of the American Economic Association's 2003 John Bates Clark Medal.
"Synopsis" by , Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? What kind of impact did Roe v. Wade have on violent crime?

These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much heralded scholar who studies the stuff and riddles of everyday life-; from cheating and crime to sports and child rearing-; and whose conclusions regularly turn the conventional wisdom on its head. He usually begins with a mountain of data and a simple, unasked question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: freakonomics.

Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and co-author Stephen J. Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives-; how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they set out to explore the hidden side of ... well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.

What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a surfeit of obfuscation, complication, and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and-; if the right questions are asked-; is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking. Steven Levitt, through devilishly clever and clear-eyed thinking, shows how to seethrough all the clutter.

Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.

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