March 14, 2016

Book Review : When to Rob a Bank: A Rogue Economist's Guide to the World

When to Rob a Bank: A Rogue Economist's Guide to the World By Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

(This story was published in BW | BusinessWorld Issue Dated 19-Oct-2015)

Why things are the way they are?

The economist-journalist duo is back and they have packed their multiple punches that they delivered over the last few years of blogposts into this wonderful compendium, quirky titled 'When to Rob a Bank'. The authors have bucketed their blogposts from their hugely famous ‘Freakonomics’ blog into 12 chapters with each chapter maintaining its own distinctive theme.

Have you ever wondered social costs of mediocrity? Did you know that most books can be bucketed into 7-template theories? Or what would be your
modus-operandi if you were a terrorist? Or did you know that there is load of behavioral-science hidden behind designing menus? These and many other mundane observations from the real-world are dissected by the author duo and the evidences are broken down in an unconventional manner and woven into a story thereby stimulating the reader.

The book is another freakingly fantastic read from the author’s stables after their hugely successful earlier titles : “Think like a Freak”, “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics”. Stephen J. Dubner is the journalist while behavioral-economic thinking is brought to the table by Steven D. Levitt. The author-duo truly demonstrates ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking and the thought-patterns after reading the book would truly leave an indelible mark on the reader.

The duo's casual, personal and opinionated style of writing is a treat for any ardent reader and more so if you are a behavioral economist. The biggest win of the authors is their brilliant and captivating storytelling which makes the reader think beyond the norm and present to him some facets that the reader would not have otherwise thought about. So, the next time when you do not tip the air-hostess or catch someone lying or cheating, you can reason beyond the norms of morals and ethics and also think about the economics of the act that drives many of the decisions.

An enthusiastic reader of the Freakonomics blog can probably complain that the blogposts are already available for free on the public domain, but the artful curation of the blogposts into themed chapters makes the book a salivating read. But the complaint that many authors are resorting to publishing their blogposts into books is a valid complaint coming from the web-savvy.

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