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When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 5, 2015

3.7 out of 5 stars 201 customer reviews

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  • When to Rob a Bank: ...And 131 More Warped Suggestions and Well-Intended Rants
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Lively, self-deprecating writing ensures an entertaining read for fans and new readers alike.” (Publishers Weekly)

“[A] kooky and counterintuitive collection of economic analysis. ... Plenty to revel in.” (Kirkus)

“Levitt and Dubner... return with more of their signature humor and economic perspective on everyday life. ... Will be a hit with fans of Freakonomics.” (Library Journal)

Praise for the Freakonomics Books: “Genius... has you gasping in amazement.” (Wall Street Journal)

“We are all Freakonomists now.” (Washington Post)

“An afternoon with Levitt and Dubner’s book will transform you into the most interesting person in the room that evening.” (National Public Radio)

“A splendid book, full of unlikely but arresting historical details that distinguish the authors from the run of pop social scientists.” (New York Times)

“An addictive, irresistible crash course in the populist application of economics.” (The A.V. Club)

“Good ideas ... expressed with panache.” (Financial Times)

From the Back Cover

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the landmark book Freakonomics comes this curated collection from the most readable economics blog in the universe. It’s the perfect solution for the millions of readers who love all things Freakonomics. Surprising and erudite, eloquent and witty, When to Rob a Bank demonstrates the brilliance that has made the Freakonomics guys an international sensation, with more than 7 million books sold in 40 languages, and 150 million downloads of their Freakonomics Radio podcast.

When Freakonomics was first published, the authors started a blog—and they’ve kept it up. The writing is more casual, more personal, even more outlandish than in their books. In When to Rob a Bank, they ask a host of typically off-center questions: Why don’t flight attendants get tipped? If you were a terrorist, how would you attack? And why does KFC always run out of fried chicken?

Over the past decade, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner have published more than 8,000 blog posts on Freakonomics.com. Many of them, they freely admit, were rubbish. But now they’ve gone through and picked the best of the best. You’ll discover what people lie about, and why; the best way to cut gun deaths; why it might be time for a sex tax; and, yes, when to rob a bank. (Short answer: never; the ROI is terrible.) You’ll also learn a great deal about Levitt and Dubner’s own quirks and passions, from gambling and golf to backgammon and the abolition of the penny. 

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 5, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062385321
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062385321
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (201 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book isn't so much a book, let alone a sequel to Freakonomics, as it is a celebration of 10 years of the Freakonomics branded state-of-mind. Little to nothing here is presented as thoroughly researched forays into unrelated anecdotes but rather it is more of a ticket into the minds of Levitt and Dubner who show they think about various topics in somewhat different ways (such as "Why Don't Flight Attendants Get Tipped?"). The book does expand beyond this idea of understanding the psychology of economists as well, offering "fun sized" pieces of Freakonomics, such as the story/stories about Jane Siberry. Additionally, there are just genuinely fun parts that celebrate the decade long run of this "new" way of thinking, as evident through the author's contests.

If you are expecting to thoroughly understand when to rob a bank or the cost of fearing strangers, then you should look elsewhere. This book is more of a piece of memorabilia that marks the 10th anniversary of the Freakonomics brand (the original book was published in 2005). The same way that die hard Harry Potter fans might purchase J.K. Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013, and fans of the Andy Griffith Show might purchase Mayberry Memories: The Andy Griffith Show Photo Album, fans of Freakonomics should buy this book to have a look behind the scenes of the mindset of the authors. Plus there are little bonuses along the way.

Now, most of this book, if not all of this book is from their blog. Which means most of this book, if not all of this book is available online. For free.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These guys are great. I listen to their podcast, read their blog, and I've read all their books. Buying this was a no-brainer.

However, I'm not as impressed with this book as I have been in the past. I'm not a fan of recycled material (though they do expand on certain pieces). If you don't know, this book is basically post from their blog (hand picked). The posts are of course great posts and if you haven't read them then you'll likely very much enjoy this book. If you're like me and you read their blog, listen to their podcast, then this book may not blow you away.

I still really like these two guys and want to support what they do so I bought the book. :)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Levitt and Dubner have become a part of my life: they appear on public radio in my area and their blog and their other books have wonderful, offbeat ideas that fascinate me.

And fairness to the negative Reviews here, every entry in this book is freely available on Levitt and Dubner's blog. Their rationale resonates with me. Dubner was driving in Maine when he came upon a gigantic Poland Spring bottling plant. "Dubner had always thought it strange that so many people would pay good money for a bottle of water. And yet they do, to the tune of roughly $100 billion a year."

Levitt and Dubner often wondered why they kept writing their blog -- now starting its eleventh year. They decided it was because "our readers liked reading the blog, and we loved our readers." From time to time, folks would suggest they turn the blog into a book. "This struck us as a colossally dumb idea ..." until Dubner came across that gigantic Poland Spring bottling plant.

"Suddenly a book of blog post didn't seem so dumb. So in the tradition of Poland Spring, Evian and other hydro-geniuses, we've decided to bottle something that was freely available and charge you money for it. To be fair, we did go to the trouble of reading through the whole blog and picking out the best material."

So there you have it: read this material for free on their blog -- or buy the book and carry it with you on your smart phone, and dip into the book whenever you have a spare minute. [Meanwhile, I carry a few empty Poland Spring bottles in my car and fill them up with delicious New York City water whenever my supply gets low.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is a compilation of blog posts. You can get them all for free on their website.

Still, it's interesting if you haven't read them before.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Honestly I would not recommend buying this book. If you do not already know, the book is a compilation of blogs from the authors' website. I do not feel like the blogs really go in depth on any one topic though. I thought this book would be similar to Malcom Gladwell's "What the Dog Saw", which was a compilation of his New York Times articles. That book had short excerpts but they were long enough to give you a thorough analysis into a topic. I enjoyed Freakanomics and I am a big behavioral economics reader. I so far of not like this book though.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Ah, come on folks. The reviews are harsh, and the Steves are up front. You can read this for free on the blogs, if you are willing to sort through a decade of blogs to hand pick the best of them. If you find the blogs entertaining, and you don't mind reruns, then the book is great. I don't mind repeats. I haven't read every blog, or even most of them. There is also the comfort of having dead tree material in my hand for a change...
It's a good read, and you'll chuckle. What more do you want?
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