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Freakonomics - And Other Riddles of Modern Life [Paperback]

Steven D. Levitt , Stephen J. Dubner
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Jan 2005
Asking provocative and profound questions about human motivation and contemporary living and reaching some astonishing conclusions, Freakonomics will make you see the familiar world through a completely original lens.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; 1st edition (Jan 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061131326
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061131325
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 15.2 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (286 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,344,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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‘A phenomenon … their approach has won the book a cult following’ -- Observer

‘A sensation … you’ll be stimulated, provoked and entertained. Of how many books can that be said?’ -- Sunday Telegraph

‘Freakonomics reads like a detective novel … has you chuckling one minute and gasping in amazement the next’ -- Wall Street Journal

‘The book is a delight; it educates, surprises and amuses … dazzling’ -- Economist

‘Total controversy … Levitt has shocked the world’ -- Sunday Express --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Steven Levitt is a tenured professor in the University of Chicago's Economics Department and editor of The Journal of Political Economy. This will be his first book. Stephen J. Dubner is the best-selling author of Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family and, most recently, of Confessions of a Hero Worshiper --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buy the expanded edition 5 Jan 2009
By Steve
This book first arrived in a blizzard of publicity back in 2005. Now 4 years on, it has been re-released in a revised and expanded edition with an extra 90 pages of bonus material (be sure to order the 336-page edition) consisting of newspaper columns and blog entries, along with a few corrections and an overall restructuring (the previous introductory magazine excerpts to each chapter have now been consolidated into a single article and moved to the back of the book).

I found Freakonomics to be an engaging and entertaining read, albeit a fairly light one. It doesn't set out to teach or champion any particular theory or methodology; it simply takes a handful of diverse real life scenarios - parenting, the Ku Klux Klan, crack dealers, cheating school teachers, Sumo wrestlers, etc - and examines them through the lens of incentives and rewards.

This is another one of those books that shines a light on the shortcomings of human intuition and the oft-exaggerated merits of 'common sense' (in particular, the sections on how to increase voter turnout, and how to discourage late arrivals, are intriguing).

Freakonomics probably doesn't quite live up to its hype as "a phenomenon", but it remains thought-provoking and fun nonetheless. Also important to its success: it is very easy to follow. No prior knowledge of (or even interest in) economics is required.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a bit light 11 April 2006
As mentioned at several points, this book is an expansion of a newspaper article that the authors wrote together. It is a very interesting gallop through new and sometimes extraordinary research by both the author and other new economists. The work on drug gangs is particularly good.
However, the book is quite short and the style of writing is US magazine-lite. As a bright introduction to some of the more surprising uses of economics and statistics, it's a very good, quick read but it's all over very quickly.
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65 of 70 people found the following review helpful
By Andrew Johnston VINE VOICE
This book does two important things - it challenges the reader to really think about the causes of things, and it makes modern economic thinking interesting and accessible to the mass audience. It's also a good, fun read, and for all these reasons it should be applauded.

In this book Steven Levitt develops ideas about a number of aspects of economic and social development which challenge received wisdom. He then both challenges traditional analyses, and offers solid support for his theories using detailed analysis of a number of unusual but highly reliable data sources.

For example, he attributes the dramatic fall of crime rates in the USA in the 1990s to greater access to abortion 20 years earlier, rather than traditional explanations like better policing. Drawing on a number of unimpeachable data sources he provides strong support for his hypothesis over more common ones.

Another fascinating chapter analyses the economics of drug dealing, and concludes that most crack dealers would be better off with regular minimum-wage jobs.

However, these are the high points, and towards the end the book starts to feel like the authors didn't have enough material for a 200 page book. There's a fair amount of repetition, and the later chapters start to feel a bit light. The last chapter, on trends in children's names, is really rather boring and tells us very little of interest.

This is a shame, because the core of the book is excellent. It will hold your interest, but don't expect a lot of pages for your money. Maybe the authors are genuinely very clever.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Laughing Points. 31 July 2007
By maya j
'Freakonomics' is a witty, irreverent book for individuals who have never been and will never be Economics theorists. It's at once hilarious and serious about applying principles of Economics to real life scenarios, and it's just so much fun to read!

Let's start by saying, don't let the title scare you. I know most people pretty much despise anything to do with Economics, and anyone with a "respectable" connection to Economics would turn a nose up at this book. But with chapters like: The Ku Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents; Schoolteachers and Sumo Wrestlers; and Drug Dealers Living with Their Moms- I mean how awful can it be? Steven D. Levitt teaches Economics at the University of Chicago, so he is absolutely qualified to make the relational comparisons he makes, thus actually giving we Economics neophytes something to chew on. In other words, if my Economics classes in college were like this, I might have actually learned something! But seriously, 'Freaknomics' delves into how things actually are all intertwined, no matter how absurd. It's premise is that conventionally held beliefs may not always be what they seem, and many things that seem wholly apart from each other are inter-related. Other than just laughing and enjoying the witty banter of the authors, I feel like I truly learned some things, and it gave me food for thought on other issues. The chapter entitled "A Roshanda by Any Other Name" was just pitch perfect, and the chapter on parenting makes you realize that we really don't need all those parenting books after all.

'Freakonomics' is deftly written for novices and easy to read, with each chapter being basically a lesson unto itself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars second time read. extended version is great
Well worth a read. I read the first version years ago and this extended version didn't disappoint. Off to read the next book - super freakonomics.
Published 8 days ago by JanisScallon
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Wonderful book
Published 9 days ago by Justin
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that will make you think differently.
Made me think in a different way altogether. Very clearly explained the in and outs of e.g. welfare payments, educational attainment etc.
Published 24 days ago by Mrs. Agnes Boddington
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Really useful book, perfect for A Level economics students and great reading too, accessible, straightforward and also fun. Recommended for students of Economics and business
Published 26 days ago by St John's School Librarian
5.0 out of 5 stars The original economics text for non-economists
Economics is the dismal science, and has historically been restricted to economists.

Freakonomics takes economics theory and applies it to situations we can all... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jo_N
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting approach
This publication was recommended to me by a friend and although the subject (economics) would normally not appeal to me the way this is written is a very refreshing way of looking... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mr. David Lilly
1.0 out of 5 stars Hidden Side of Everything?No; Heavily-Advertised Jewish Low-Grade...
I won't bother with the heavily-promoted material of this heavily-promoted Jewish journalism. Instead, let me draw attention to what this book could have been, though not under the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Rerevisionist
4.0 out of 5 stars Freakonomics
Very clever and interesting read. It gives a nice insight to looking at the world differently, would be interested in more of their research for sure.
Published 2 months ago by D Wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars Breif review
A very interesting read, though, arguably, a more accurate title could be: "How legalized abortion diminished crime in America, and other depressing facts & figures". Read more
Published 2 months ago by Samuel
5.0 out of 5 stars sociological research
interesting subjects
a swift and deep study on different apparenlty shallow aspects of society - they actually aren't. Read more
Published 2 months ago by E. mn dell'orbo
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