The Logic of Life : the rational economics of an irrational world, by Tim Harford.

New York: Random House, 2008.

There’s been a lot written recently about seemingly irrational behavior. It seems it’s all the rage to explain why the seemingly irrational is, in fact, quite rational. Presumably some time in the future someone will write a book on why we were so obsessed with demonstrating the order of chaos as we reached the end of the first decade of the new millennium, but…I digress. I love these books, and Tim Harford has done a noteworthy job in contributing to the literature.

Some of his examples are interesting: he has a chapter on poker and game theory. Some may be discouraging: his chapter on the effect of divorce on the marriage market, as well as the positive (!) effects of divorce, may make you think twice. Some of his examples – his chapters on neighborhood segregation and racism – are downright disturbing. And his final chapter, a truly whirlwind tour of human and economic history, seems to lead to the conclusion that an endlessly growing population is the greatest key to rapid human innovation, something which may make ecologists shudder and technologists debate. Still, it’s a thought-provoking book. Don’t be put off by the word economics in the subtitle, and give it a try.

BrandSimple : how the best brands keep it simple and succeed, by Allen P. Adamson

New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

To Allen, the recipe for building a good brand is simple: define your essence, develop a brand that captures that essence, and then live up to the promise. Allen’s chapters describe how to accomplish this and use real-life examples to show why some brands succeed and why others have failed. Allen doesn’t downplay that managing to do these successfully is actually terribly difficult – chapters discuss the importance of identifying what makes you different from the other players in your field, the importance of getting everyone in your organization on board and making sure that everything – not just advertising and PR efforts – reflect your brand essence. His discussions of real companies which have succeeded or failed bring home his points in concrete ways anyone can use in their own organization.

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One Response to “Book Reviews”


  1. it is a good idea to look for book reviews first before buying an expensive book “

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