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The Freakonomics Story
It began when New York journalist and author Stephen J. Dubner went to Chicago to write about award-winning economist Steven D. Levitt for The New York Times Magazine. Dubner had been reluctant to take the assignment (he was in the middle of writing a book about the psychology of money). Levitt was reluctant to be shadowed by a journalist (but his mother loved the Times Magazine, so he gave in). The article came out, and led to an unexpected partnership. Levitt and Dubner wrote Freakonomics, a book about cheating teachers, bizarre baby names, self-dealing Realtors, and crack-selling mama’s boys. They figured it would sell about 80 copies. Instead, it took up long-term residency on the Times best-seller list, and went on to sell more than 4 million copies in 35 languages. Then they wrote SuperFreakonomics. It also became a worldwide best-seller. A lot of other stuff happened, too. A blog. A documentary film. Jon Stewart and Beauty and the Geek! Lectures. A pair of pants. A radio show. Not bad for a partnership born of such profound reluctance.
Steven D. Levitt is the William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, where he directs the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory. He is the 2003 John Bates Clark Medal winner, an award that recognizes the most outstanding economist in America under the age of 40. In 2006, he was named one of Time magazine’s 100 People Who Shape Our World. Levitt received his B.A. from Harvard University in 1989, his Ph.D. from M.I.T. in 1994, and has taught at Chicago since 1997. In addition to his academic and Freakonomics pursuits, he is a founding partner of The Greatest Good consulting firm. He lives in Chicago with his wife Jeannette and their four children.
Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and TV and radio personality. In addition to Freakonomics andSuperFreakonomics, his books include Turbulent Souls (Choosing My Religion), Confessions of a Hero-Worshiper, and the children’s book The Boy With Two Belly Buttons. His journalism has been published in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Time, and has been anthologized in The Best American Sports Writing, The Best American Crime Writing, and elsewhere. He has taught English at Columbia University (while receiving an M.F.A. there), played in a rock band (which started at Appalachian State University, where he was an undergrad, and was later signed to Arista Records), and, as a writer, was first published at the age of 11, in Highlights for Children. He lives in New York with his wife, the documentary photographer Ellen Binder, and their children.