The Undercover Economist
I bought The Undercover Economist because Amazon recommended it for fans of Freakonomics. I was skeptical at first, figuring it might be a rehash of what I already read in Freakonomics. Boy, was I wrong.
This is one of those unusual books that actually got better from one chapter to the next. I’d have to honestly say that the majority of the books I read tend to get rather boring after the first hundred pages or so. The author generally has a few key concepts to communicate, could do so in 50-100 pages, but the virtues of publishing dictate that you can’t sell a 50- or 100-page book, hence it gets puffed up to 300 pages or so. (See my earlier post about this phenomenon.) Don’t worry about that problem with this book.
The topical coverage is considerably different than what is covered in Freakonomics. If you read The Undercover Economist you’re highly likely to have a new point of view on subjects like free trade, sweatshops, “poor” countries, grocery store pricing, health care costs and even the price of a cup of coffee.
Give this one a shot. As I found with Freakonomics, even if you disagree with the author’s opinions, this book forces you to think hard about whether he’s right or wrong.
Yes - the best chapters were at the end - the chapter on Cameroon was my favorite. And yes, the book is very different than Freakonomics - this one is much more technical, much more real econ analysis.
The author has his own blog, http://timharford.com/writing/ and . And as you pointed out - he is able to make the points of his book in about 400 words in these articles instead of 300 pages of his book.
Posted by: Diego | February 05, 2006 at 02:49 PM