About the Author
Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University. He has written for Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wilson Quarterly.
David Drummond has narrated over seventy audiobooks for Tantor, in genres ranging from current political commentary to historical nonfiction, from fantasy to military, and from thrillers to humor. He has garnered multiple AudioFile Earphones Awards as well as an Audie Award nomination. Visit him at drummondvoice.com.
Fast, furious, and fun, with great examples of how to apply economic thinking to nontraditional subjects. (Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of Freakonomics)
Stephen J. Dubner
Engaging [and] useful.
Perhaps mindful that the procession of Freakonomics-inspired pop-economics books is becoming a blur, blogger Cowen aims to not “hit the reader over the head with economic principles.” Indeed, in his chatty disquisitions, economics often recedes into near invisibility. Few readers will hold it against this charming guide on how “to get more of the good stuff in life.” An engaging narrator, Cowen offers idiosyncratic strategies for appreciating museum art, for building “family trust and cooperation,” for writing a personal ad, for reading “classic novels that seem boring on first inspection,” for surviving torture, for properly practicing self-deception and for most effectively giving to beggars in Calcutta. In the book’s most passionate and practical chapter, on food, Cowen explains how, with planning and tactics, we can “eat much better meals” at home and in restaurants, here and abroad. Throughout the book, the author’s advice is less counterintuitive than simply surprising (he argues that “the committed foodie should look to regions where some people are very rich and others are very poor”). Even if you don’t agree with all of Cowen’s cheerfully offered opinions, it’s a pleasure to accompany him through his various interests and obsessions. At the least, you’ll pick up some useful tips for what to order at upscale restaurants. (Sept.)
Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Cowen, an economist and monthly columnist for the New York Times,attempts to follow the lead of Steven Levitt’s superb Freakonomicsand bring economic principles to everyday life-or so the book’s promotional material claims. Unfortunately, Cowen deviates quite a bit from economics. While he makes some interesting observations, he spends far too much time preaching and making quips. Among Cowen’s better insights is that the purchase of kidnapping insurance in Latin America has normalized the kidnapping trade because kidnappers and the insurance companies have developed mutual trust and a solid working relationship. The book’s problem is that there are few such nuggets. Instead, Cowen goes overboard in giving advice, drawn from his own experiences, on diverse subjects such as how to order food in a restaurant, please a spouse, and dress for success. Do readers really want restaurant and personal advice from an economist? Cowen fails to deliver what the book advertises. A marginal purchase only for larger public libraries.
—Lawrence R. Maxted
“Charming, smart and very, very creative. And it will change your life in the best way: in small steps.” —Tim Harford, author of The Undercover Economist