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When to Rob a Bank (Freakonomics #4)

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  6,343 Ratings  ·  676 Reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published May 5th 2015 by William Morrow
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Petra X
DNF'd. This book is really patchy. The blogs - for that's what they were - go from really bad, almost facetious and ill-researched topics to some interesting ideas. The percentage of interesting to blah is only about 10% so rather than waste 90% of my time, I will spend it reading something more rewarding. As economists, I'm sure the authors will appreciate my reasoning.

Put your coffee down before you snork it reading this. Raising politicians salaries much higher in order to attract a bett
J.K. Riki
Oct 14, 2015 J.K. Riki rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
Full disclosure, I did not finish this book. I had to put it down after 50 pages or so because my blood pressure was through the roof and my eye was twitching.

The collection of blog posts in this book range from interesting to unreasonably insane. Unfortunately there were too many in the latter category for my liking. I consider myself a pretty open person, but when someone writes that America should adopt a system where people have to pay for voting in an election, and you can have unlimited vo
Jul 05, 2016 David rated it liked it
Shelves: essays, audiobook
This is a collection of blog essays from the Freakonomics blog. The first part of the book arranges the essays by topic. As mentioned in the book itself, the second part of the book lacks any organization; the essays seem to be in a completely random order. The essays are short, and are rather superficial. Each of the essays seems to end with the reader hanging. And then what ? ..... So, if you are looking for the sort of anecdotal evidence for points of view that the Freakonomics books portray, ...more
Jane Stewart
Jul 03, 2015 Jane Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, economics
Levitt should NOT NARRATE. Please have Dubner read all future books. (I listened to the audiobook.)

I love Levitt’s brain, but when he talks it’s hard for me to concentrate on what he says. He does not enunciate his words. My mind wanders. I replayed two sentences twice and I still didn’t know what word he was saying. One was “business trips and (compy).” Other examples follow (the correct word is in parentheses): on the rose (roads), the other rection (direction), cloth dipa (diapers), capit (ca
Jun 15, 2015 Blake rated it did not like it
This book is a blog highlight reel, and lacks all of the analytical depth that the earlier writings of these "rogue" economists drew me in with. The effect is one of having an intelligent friend mention stray thoughts he'd had earlier that afternoon, many of which could lead to great discussion, if only you weren't in a loud bar and he too drunk to formulate any new ideas on the topics.

At least that covers some of them. Others simply don't seem well thought out from the start. For instance, one
S.Baqer Al-Meshqab
Jun 26, 2016 S.Baqer Al-Meshqab rated it liked it
Because I am a big fan of Levitt and Dubner Works, I feel entitled to write this review. I have to admit, there has never been in my reading life, a series in which I was extremely absorbed like the Freaknomics Series. I never read all books published under one title consequently. I always thought I needed a break, no matter how good the series was. In Freakonomics, however, I read all four books straight, no break whatsoever.

Now Let us compare the time I spent reading these books.
May 20, 2015 Lesa rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
There is no good answer to that question, which is why the subtitle makes a lot of sense. The authors of Freakonomics collected pieces from their blog in the book When to Rob a Bank...and 131 more warped suggestions and well-intended rants. In celebration of the tenth anniversary of Freakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner gathered articles from their blog, a blog they started even though Levitt didn't know what a blog was.

I'm going to admit that some of the articles on economics wer
Brian Clegg
Jun 27, 2015 Brian Clegg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a certain amount of disappointment caused by the previous Freaknomics inspired book, Think Like a Freak, I was prepared to find the latest equally disappointing. After all, the authors admit this is just a transcription of parts of their blog. In economics terms, as they point out, this is the equivalent of buying bottled water - paying money for something you can get for free. However they do claim to have culled the best from their blog, so you don't have to, which is a useful service.

Jason Luu
May 26, 2015 Jason Luu rated it did not like it
When to Rob a Bank by Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner. This makes the fourth Freakonomics branded book I’ve read by Levitt and Dubner and the experience has been uneven at best.

The first Freakonoimics book was interesting, albeit a little directionless. Super Freakonomics had more narrative, but was surprisingly illogical with more political ideology than I expected or wanted. Levitt and Dubner hit their stride with Think like a Freak, combining a coherent narrative framework with stories an
Sep 13, 2016 Jay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business, audiobook
If you like “Freakonomics”, the book, you will find this collection similar. It is the same folks, covering the same kinds of topics with the same kind of humor and style. But these are snippets from their online blog, and while some topics curried a lot of interest in me, most of the time the treatment was too short or too limited in depth. I liked them, but this book was like a bowlful of Lifesavers where “Freakonomics” was a ravioli dinner – either can fill you up, but you feel a bit bad if ...more
Johnny Williams
May 23, 2015 Johnny Williams rated it liked it
Freakonomics this is not -- I love Freakonomics and Levitt was great with it. This is a follow-up but content taken from his blog. This is okay and it makes for a great light ---sporadic read. That means you can read it like a bathroom reader and consume a page or two at a time and not lose the current of the book. Why?
Because it is simply a collection of questions Levitt heard or lifted off his blog with some input form outsiders and the public sometimes with a splash of humor thrown in. There
Laura Hughes
May 22, 2015 Laura Hughes rated it liked it
Shelves: money
This is just a collection of blog entries you can read online for free, which would have disappointed me more if I'd bought it instead of getting it out of the library. I've never read the blog, so it is useful to have the top posts curated in one place that I can read without backlight. The Freakonomics guys always have interesting ideas, and many of the entries gave me a lot to think about.

I do wish there had been more (any) editorial commentary from Present-Day Levitt & Dubner on some of
Aug 18, 2015 Erik rated it really liked it
This collection of blog posts from the Freakonomics blog is, page for page, probably the most thought provoking book I think I have ever read! Hilarious, sad, interesting, depressing, disappointing, uplifting, and so on. Amazing, quick book that reads more like a magazine. Highly recommended if you like thinking about how the world works.
Jan 09, 2016 Priya rated it it was ok
Freakonomics was awesome! Superfreakonomics was good.
This book - well, this is just a collection of blogposts of the authors with a tinge of the characteristic 'freakonomics' humor and analysis in them.
The 300 odd pages can make for a casual read on a boring Sunday afternoon, but not good enough to be a full book.
Oh, and the title is extremely misleading and irrelevant to the context.
May 10, 2015 Jeff rated it liked it
If you're a regular reader of the Freakonomics blog posts and/or a fan of their podcasts you've likely heard most of the pieces collected here in a sort of greatest hits book from those sources. None the less enjoyable though.
Nathan Howell
Jan 02, 2016 Nathan Howell rated it liked it
Just a collection of their blog posts, which are mostly excellent, but also pretty superficial due to the nature of the medium. But a good, quick read and a reminder of how much I love their writing and the way they see the world. Maybe I should have been an economist.
Zieq Hakim
Aug 23, 2016 Zieq Hakim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Insightful and entertaining as ever! Due to it's chaos organized way of publishing made it an easy read too.
May 17, 2015 Mac rated it liked it
I believe our decisions and actions often have unintended consequences, and I'm fascinated by off-the-wall counterintuitive ideas. So the Freakonomics books have been a source of pleasure to me, and When To Rob a Bank is no exception. It's a collection of excerpts selected from the Freakonomics blog and organized ("curated" as the book jacket says) into categories, which very loosely hold together.

This book, like the others, elicited my usual reactions of "Wow, that's neat!" and "Oh, really!" a
Apr 03, 2016 Abby rated it did not like it
I might not finish this book because of how insanely these economists ignore the fact that market forces are based on people and not just numbers going up and down. They criticize the UK NHS because people use "too much" healthcare? Their "solution" might be good for healthy people but if it encourages anyone who's sick not to go to the doctor, it's a universal bad! Why don't stewardesses get tipped? Because they get paid a living wage! Tips aren't a value added, they allow customers to ...more
Matt Weller
Aug 17, 2015 Matt Weller rated it it was ok
The authors themselves compare this book to bottled water - something that is available entirely for free - from a tap or online in this case - that some people inexplicably pay for. As an avid anti-bottled-water crusader, I should have taken the hint and stopped reading there.

It's not (entirely) the fact that the majority of the content is freely available at the Freakanomics blog that made this book a disappointment; rather that the majority of the vignettes are just that: undeveloped short st
Nov 02, 2016 Yaaresse rated it did not like it
DNF. Abandoned at 32%
Source: Library e-book

Sometimes when I'm reading something dense or intense, I like to have a book going on the side that lends itself to an easy pick up/put down as a breather. Well, this one is definitely easy to put down.

This book reminded me of three things:
1. With rare (if any) exception blogs make terrible books. Not only are most blogs shallow and self-absorbed, but they're repetitive. It didn't take long for this book to become grating. It feels like sitting throug
Ken Kugler
Aug 19, 2015 Ken Kugler rated it it was amazing
When to Rob a Bank, by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner, is a fun look at many different topics that was taken from their blog site. There is some sort of order to them but it really does not matter. You could read them in any order you want and it still be highly entertaining.
The authors take many ordinary subjects and put spins on them in ways you probably never considered. Even their idea for this book shows the strange way that they look at topics. It starts with them talking about
May 10, 2016 kat rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this on sale on Amazon and I'm really sorry I did. I vaguely remember at least somewhat enjoying Freakonomics, but this is a hot mess of disorganized blogorrhea that accomplished nothing except making me angry. There's little to no actual data or in-depth analysis, just a bunch of off-the-cuff ruminations that range from laughably ill-conceived to dangerously bad. This is a book of Levitt & Dubner's personal opinions, which are on the whole myopic, right-wing and ...more
Benjamin Torres
Jan 14, 2016 Benjamin Torres rated it liked it
As a Computer science engineer also known as geek, I know next to nothing about economics, but I do like statistics and surprises, and that pretty much sumarizes almost all the blog posts contained in this book. It is about day to day stuff that according to the statistics, could be bettered or explained with some "simple" economic terms like incentives, loss aversion, demand and supply.
Some of the posts are clearly better than others, I specially didn't like the ones where it was obvious that t
Sep 08, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
When to Rob a Bank is a compilation of blog messages from the authors of Freakonomics. While some of the topics they discuss, or ruminate upon, are interesting, it was almost too many disconnected topics to listen to all at once. I think the format for these musings is blog, essay or editorial, which are generally enjoyed one at a time over a period of time so that each can be give proper thought. Some of them were more interesting than others, but I would say it is still a worthwhile listen.
May 29, 2015 Marya rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
This collection of blog posts is a pretty good break book: Not so interesting that you can't put it down and get back to work, but not so dull that you'd give up on it altogether. I did skip a lot of the sections that talked about ref calls or plays from bygone days, not the least of which was because I don't follow sports in general. On the plus side, this book fleshes out the authors, making the Freakonomics guys your bar buddies. But that same sense of camaraderie also gives you the ...more
Wesley Roth
Jul 01, 2015 Wesley Roth rated it liked it
Levitt and Dubner delivered in their latest book "When to Rob a Bank". This was a compilation of their blog posts over the last 10 years. It was good to have a collection of their best posts in print form. After reading the book, I may start downloading their weekly podcast for my commutes to work. This book wasn't as good as the original Freakonomics or Super Freakonomics, but definitely will satisfy their fans.
Aug 18, 2016 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
3.5 stars, an enjoyable and thought provoking look into various social questions and conundrums via the lens of economics. Unsurprisingly, seeing as this book is a compilation and edited version of their favorite blog posts from the past few years, I found Freakonomics to be a more cohesive and more in depth read than this work. While this book is interesting, none of it is as nearly memorable as their original research. The audio book made for satisfactory road trip material.
Satyabrat Mishra
Jan 15, 2016 Satyabrat Mishra rated it liked it
I have always been a big fan of the freakonomics series for the depth of their research. When to rob a bank is just the opposite; more like ramblings of a drug induced barrage. It's supposed to be that way, given it's a collection of blog posts rather than a book by itself. I'm not saying it is bad, just not what I want in a book.
Krisette Spangler
Jun 19, 2015 Krisette Spangler rated it really liked it
Shelves: essays
These are just selections from the blog operated by the authors of 'Freakonomics'. There were some very interesting thoughts and rants, which is what you would expect from these men. If you liked their other books, then I'm sure you would enjoy this one as well. Some blog posts contained crass content, but I didn't have a problem skipping those sections.
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Steven David "Steve" Levitt is a prominent American economist best known for his work on crime, in particular on the link between legalized abortion and crime rates. Winner of the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal, he is currently the Alvin H. Baum Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, director of the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory at the University of Chicago Graduate School of ...more
More about Steven D. Levitt...

Other Books in the Series

Freakonomics (4 books)
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Freakonomics, #1)
  • SuperFreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes And Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance
  • Think Like a Freak

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