Friday, January 10, 2014
Review: Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner is a thoroughly engaging account of new uses for Economics practices in real-life situations, instructed with gusto and well-fitting anecdotes that illustrate the rational behind seemingly unrelated factoids, like abortion and crime rate, as well as how teachers cheat their students, the pyramid scheme of a drug empire, and how a person's name is connected to their potential for success in life.Written by one of the world's most creative economists with a flair for explanations, and a skilled journalist with a knack for good storytelling, Freakonomics is a nonfiction wonder that will change the way you look at the way the ways of the world all relate to each other.
Yet another much-hyped book that surprisingly lives up to said expected success, Freakonomics provides exactly what I look for in nonfiction: it's easily accessible for un-indoctrinated readers, and includes ties to pop culture, biographical anecdotes, trivia to offload on my friends in moments of social necessity, etc. And it is a well-constructed account of a topic that I will not even begin to pretend I know anything about.
Which may have hindered a bit of my enthusiasm going into it: I have virtually no background in economics or sociology, which are two driving factors of the books origins of information. Even in reading the book, despite the fact that I was interested in and fully able to understand the "what" and the "whys" of their conclusions, I was still left a bit hanging on the "hows," like how this information was tabulated and how it corresponds to greater theories of Economics as a whole.
However, Levitt's status as some kind of Economics wunderkind and expressed leanings towards the unconventional render the conventional understanding of Economics that I was so desperate for rather superfluous. In this book, information itself, and the roundabout truths its exposes, reigns as capital currency, and dazzles readers with unexpected - yet, with Dubner as your guide, fully comprehensible - tidbits of previously unexplored circumstances in the realm of cause and effect.
For one of the first books I read in 2014, this one sure started me on the right foot for nonfiction in the new year!