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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 18 reviews
on May 25, 2013
Seabright brings our understanding of economics to a deeper level by rooting it not just in a natural desire to trade but in the ability - developed over the last ten thousand years - to trust our fate to outsiders. Humans have developed institutions to increase our material well-being based on the knowledge that if I do my job, you will do yours, and together we could prosper. He replaces Adam Smith's 'self-interest' with the idea of 'tunnel vision' that allows us all to function within a division of labor and a system of market exchanges. Unfortunately, this advantage brings its own disadvantage in that excessive tunnel vision permits us to lose sight of the bigger picture, and thus fail to protect ourselves against such problems as over-speculative financial activities, environmental degradation, etc. Government is not necessarily the cure because those engaged in governmental institutions suffer from the same tunnel vision. The challenge is to create institutions to solve problems by enhancing our trust - within and among nations. So while Seabright presents no game-changing answers to our problems, he puts the questions themselves on a different footing by focusing on the advantages and the fragility of trust.
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on January 24, 2013
A great introduction to the history of economic life as well as a reference to numerous phenomena that play a vital role yet remain unnoticed in our everyday life. I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested as an easy and joyful read.

On the other hand, the book could benefit from a more structured approach, both between its chapters (which are somewhat loosely connected) as well as within its chapters (in terms of concepts presented and frameworks considered).

If you're just starting out on evolutionary economics or on the interplay between sociology and economics, this would be a good and interesting book to look for.
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on September 7, 2012
I'm an economist who researchers, thinks about, and writes about these issues all the time. It has been a long time since I was so impressed with an author's creativity. He helped me see ordinary economics in a whole new fashion. One of my favorite books.
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on June 13, 2016
The book arrived promptly and appears to be nearly new. It appears to have been owned by the Schaumberg Twp District Library at one time.
I've read about half of the book. Up to this point, I'd say the discussion of the traits that people share with other primates (when dealing with
resources) has been the most interesting aspect of the book so far.
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on October 14, 2010
Interesting book which is similar to Matt Ridley's the rational optimist. The underlying theme is great for non economist, how do we prosper through cooperation.
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on October 29, 2005
"The Company of Strangers" is heavily dependent upon author Seabright's interpretation of human evolutionary history and sociology and hence the material is sensitive to his world-view. Thus his universal use of "she" and "her" instead of the conventional "he" and "his" for anonymous third persons alerted me to the likelihood that his version of political correctness played a role in his views. Then his comments early in the book on WWII, "... that many individual soldiers even on the Allied side were involved in ... atrocities ..." set me to questioning all of his judgments. He goes on (in the interests of colorful writing?) to describe "A mother (who) sees her son return at the end of a war ... (but) what can she say to another mother ... whose daughter's corpse lies in an unmarked grave ... after rape and torture by a platoon of advancing soldiers drunk with lust and fear?"

It seems that Seabright has no personal experience of war. I did serve for many mean-lives (I was very lucky, for a while) in an infantry rifle platoon in WWII and after my luck ran out, I spent a year in an army hospital with other wounded soldiers where we talked candidly of our war, and I can say that criminal behavior among the men in service who fought in that war was, if anything, less common that among civilians. Moreover, I am sure that the British and French soldiers -- and (excepting some SS units) the German soldiers I fought -- were equally well behaved.

Thus I found the book interesting and erudite but laced with Seabright's politics and therefore to be taken with reserve.
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on July 8, 2014
Based on previous reviews, I think this book's qualities for various readers have a lot to do with the filter or expectations each reader brings. This book does for me what I like (most of my) economics books to do: show me my seemingly familiar world, and all its seemingly mundane flows and arrangements, from other angles: connect dots not obvious from other sources, bring me insight. This book wanders across a wide landscape, turning up insights all over, brimming over with them. If I expect too formal of a work, I will miss its incredible qualities. For example, I never considered the common economics concept, "externalities," with such a creative breadth, a wide brush, a graceful inquiry. And this starts in the book with the smells of a pre-modern cilty as an example. We move to the spread of bacteria. Then, we follow these sorts of crowded-city pathogens and their immunity-adjusted hosts the the New World, where the locals suddenly succumb en masse. These deft, imaginative movements will not be found in a too-stringent and too-focused treatise. In the future, I will be able to see externalties all over the place, of all sorts: my mind has been expanded. This is an imaginative and graceful thinker, showing off all kinds of great things, many that seemed all-too-familiar just a moment ago. I picked up this book (among my many going at any time) sporadically and just read segments -- feeling rewarded every time. I feel my econ imagination has been elevated.
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