Of interest to historians, sociologists, and political scientists, as well as Latin Americanists and anthropologists, The Princes of Naranja is a sequel to Friedrich's now classic Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village. It begins with biographical character studies of seven leaders—peasant gunmen, judges, politicos; here the book will grip the reader and provoke strong emotional response, from laughter to horror. A middle section places these "princes" in relation to each other, and to the contexts of village society and the larger entities of which it forms a part. Friedrich's synthesis of anthropology, local (mainly oral) history, macrohistory, microsociology, psychology, and literature gives new insight into the structure of Mexican politics from the local level up, and provides a model for other scholars doing analogous work in other parts of the world, especially in the developing world. The concluding section raises vital questions about the dynamic relations between the fieldworker, fieldwork, field notes, the villagers, the writing of a fieldwork-based book, and, implicitly, the audience for such books.
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist
"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.
The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Paul Friedrich's The Language Parallax argues persuasively that the "locus and focus" of differences among languages lies not so much in practical or rational aspects as in the complexity and richness of more poetic dimensions—in the nuances of words, or the style and voice of an author. This poetic reformulation of what has been called "linguistic relativism" is grounded in the author's theory of the imagination as a main source of poetic indeterminacy. The reformulation is also based on the intimate relation of the concentrated language of poetry to the potential or possibilities for poetry in ordinary conversation, dreams, and other experiences. The author presents challenging thoughts on the order and system of language in their dynamic relation to indeterminacy and, ultimately, disorder and chaos.
Drawing on his considerable fieldwork in anthropology and linguistics, Friedrich interweaves distinct and provocative elements: the poetry of language difference, the indeterminacy in dialects and poetic forms, the discovery of underlying orders, the workings of different languages, the strength of his own poetry. The result is an innovative and organic whole.
The Language Parallax, then, is a highly original work with a single bold thesis. It draws on research and writing that has involved, in particular, English, Russian, and the Tarascan language of Mexico, as well as the personal and literary study of the respective cultures. Anthropologist, linguist, and poet, Friedrich synthesizes from his experience in order to interrelate language variation and structure, the creative individual, ideas of system-in-process, and questions of scientific and aesthetic truth. The result is a new view of language held to the light of its potentially creative nature.
These may not sound like typical questions for an economist to ask. But Steven D. Levitt is not a typical economist. He is a much-heralded scholar who studies the riddles of everyday life—from cheating and crime to sports and child-rearing—and whose conclusions turn conventional wisdom on its head.
Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They usually begin with a mountain of data and a simple question. Some of these questions concern life-and-death issues; others have an admittedly freakish quality. Thus the new field of study contained in this book: Freakonomics.
Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, Levitt and Dubner show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing. In Freakonomics, they explore the hidden side of . . . well, everything. The inner workings of a crack gang. The truth about real-estate agents. The myths of campaign finance. The telltale marks of a cheating schoolteacher. The secrets of the Ku Klux Klan.
What unites all these stories is a belief that the modern world, despite a great deal of complexity and downright deceit, is not impenetrable, is not unknowable, and—if the right questions are asked—is even more intriguing than we think. All it takes is a new way of looking.
Freakonomics establishes this unconventional premise: If morality represents how we would like the world to work, then economics represents how it actually does work. It is true that readers of this book will be armed with enough riddles and stories to last a thousand cocktail parties. But Freakonomics can provide more than that. It will literally redefine the way we view the modern world.
Bonus material added to the revised and expanded 2006 editionThe original New York Times Magazine article about Steven D. Levitt by Stephen J. Dubner, which led to the creation of this book.Seven “Freakonomics” columns written for the New York Times Magazine, published between August 2005 and April 2006.Selected entries from the Freakonomics blog, posted between April 2005 and May 2006 at http://www.freakonomics.com/blog/.