February 9, 2009
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Freakonomics is easily one of the most engaging and enjoyable books I have read in a long time. The authors (Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner) have managed to write one of the few economics books truly accessible to the general public'. By making it not about economics. Sure, there's some economic theory in the book (mainly the simple and easily grasped idea that 'people respond to incentives'), but the majority of the book is about examining different situations and topics to discover the why. Math is kept to a minimum, data is clearly presented, and humorous anecdotes are used to their full effect. One of the most engaging chapters is on the economics of drug dealing, which uses the story of a college student who spent years observing a crack gang and the collected economic data gathered by that gang's leader to show that crack dealing is not as profitable (for the average grunt) as most people seem to think.

The topics are many and varied, and the author's jump between related topics in chapters, and then to entirely different topics between chapters. At one moment you'll be reading about how both sumo wrestlers and teachers cheat, and the next be reading about how baby names can effect a child's economic future (one of the more humorous of these stories considers the outcomes of a pair of siblings named Winner and Loser Lane). The anecdotes accentuate the stories well, emphasizing the results of the data analysis.

Freakonomics manages to use economic theory and data analysis to figure out the causes behind many events, and, most impressively, presents that information to the reader in a clear, easily understood, engaging and, perhaps most of all, enjoyable manner. Freakonomics is a fun read that will increase your understanding of the world around you while leaving you satisfied and hungering for more.

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