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Good, but padded
on October 3, 2012
Like Margaret Mead seemed to explain everything through anthropology, Dubner and Levitt seem able to winnow out the real story behind whatever happens, mostly by the power of number crunching economics. At least they can if they get the right troves of data, like all the student test scores in Chicago, or all the kids names in California. The writing is excellent, and the discoveries are usually fascinating. But my favorite chapter concerns how Stetson Kennedy helped make the Klu Klux Klan look silly rather than fearsome, and this is "just" a fine piece of historical journalism. Also, some stories, like the examination of declining American crime rates, are discussed twice. The last section of the book is composed of reprinted articles about the same issues previously covered in the book. It seems a bit padded. Still, I expect this duo will tackle ever bigger questions, and eventually get the goods on corporate corruption, offshore tax havens, and even the global markets in arms, diamonds, and petro dollars.