The Illustrations Do Add,
This review is from: Superfreakonomics, Illustrated Edition: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance (Hardcover)The authors obviously had a lot of fun compiling the data for this book. In general the illustrations do add to the enjoyment of the book, although a few are irrelevant to the text such as the amazing defecatory ability of the gentoo penguin.
Inevitably with this type of book, it is often bitty, which can be tiresome. But, in the case of the obstetrician Ignaz Semmelweis, who saved the lives of many childbearing mothers, there is a follow-up to tell the reader what happened next. Unfortunately, his theory was not believed, the death rate allowed to climb to the previous appalling levels, and he was committed to an asylum.
Analysis, outside the numbers, tends to be superficial. This can be seen, for example, in the lists of things once considered repugnant, but now are accepted, and vice-versa: any possibility of profound comment thereon is studiously avoided.
Two of the subjects they do cover in some detail, and interestingly, are vaccinations and Chicago prostitution.
Most of Chapter 5 is different from the rest in being more of a homage, in this case to Nathan Myhrvold and his company Intellectual Ventures.
In spite of a certain amount of bittiness and superficiality, the authors write interestingly and with great pizzazz, making an enjoyable book for dipping into.