The Core Dump

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures

[By Nic Lindh on Monday, 26 March 2007]

Review: The Undercover Economist

Marketed as being similar to Freakonomics, which it is not.

Tim Harford’s The Undercover Economist is an interesting and breezy read which attempts to explain the basics of economic theory and how it applies to the everyday world. Unfortunately while it is being marketed as a hands-on book akin to Freakonomics, the real-life examples in the book are really only there to ground some of the author’s theorizing, which is very different from the work done in Freakonomics.

Nevertheless, Harford does a good job of making the basics of economic theory interesting and accessible, and while the concepts he covers are very basic, his explanations are lively and interesting.

The problem with The Undercover Economist is that it isn’t so much a book as a series of unrelated essays, which makes it disjointed and choppy.

Refreshingly, Harford is upfront about his predilection for free trade and the benefits to be derived thereof. Perhaps it was never his intention, as the book delves with the basics of economic theory, but it would have been nice to see him do a more thorough job of shoring up his beliefs with examples.

All in all, The Undercover Economist is a brief and interesting but ultimately disjointed read.

A warning: If, like me, you purchase it due to it being marketed as a close kin of Freakonomics, you will probably be disappointed.

Related Core Dump reviews:


Fooled by Randomness

« The voice in the wilderness


Enjoy the ten latest posts!

Die in a ditch

After all these years, Nic still can’t understand the American attitude to healthcare.

The big thieves hang the little ones

Book roundup, part 29

A sci-fi and fantasy heavy installment that includes The Valedictorian of Being Dead, The Mastermind, Broadsword Calling Danny Boy, Tiamat’s Wrath, The Raven Tower, The Liberation, The Light Brigade and Cryptonomicon.

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable

Book roundup, part 28

Includes The Incomplete Book of Running, Aching God, The Murderbot Diaries, Lies Sleeping, The Consuming Fire, and Rendezvous with Rama.

Las Vegas trip report

Did you know Las Vegas is kind of nutty?

Book roundup, part 27

Includes Hollywood Dead, Tales from the Loop, Things from the Flood, The Court of Broken Knives, and Port of Shadows.

To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle

“Cancel everything. You’re going into emergency surgery today”

Nic has a retinal tear and has his vision is saved by a laser.

Book roundup, part 26

Includes The Storm Before the Storm, White Trash, Calypso, Tell the Machine Goodnight, Prince of Fools, and Provenance.