This is a very good entry point (or refresher) for statistics. The author obviously invested time in putting together clear and simple examples. More advanced stats people might be disappointed. I like this better than another broad-audience statistics book, "The Signal and the Noise" by Nate Silver. For me, the explanations here are clearer and the concepts flow better.
Some people may be put off by the academic language and many references to history (which a widely-read person will recognize), especially early in the book. For me, my patience was pretty quickly rewarded. Listening to the sample will give a good sense of this. This author is digging through (and mapping out) something absolutely vital: what we see as good, right, wrong, by ourselves and in groups, and then, how we really act in situations that challenge us in these ways. The author takes us through history and all kinds of ways of thought from ancient times through the present (spanning philosophy, various branches of science, folkways and religions, tracing right up into the recent cognitive psychology) showing the sort of grab-bag we use, in arriving at who to be, what to do, and how to react. I find the language to be crackling English prose with an ideally English narrator, but I admit I do have a high verbal IQ and lots of education. If you like to take apart what you and others feel and do, and you like a bigger context in history and various ways of thought, it's ideal.
I have been looking for this book for more than a year: a clear entry point, and survey, of a cluster of ideas within economics, dealing with motives and dynamics within any organization, family group or society, toward cooperation or cheating. This is, to me, the most central concern of society, the greatest burden of any family, company, society, legal system, or deal. It is the central unspoken topic of politics: who are the free riders gaming and thus threatening the system? The rich? The poor? Various terms relate to this: agency problems (the people you hire or trust have motives to cheat), information asymmetry (different players know different things and exploit this); game theory (with various situations illustrating choices to cooperate or defect, such as "the prisoner's dilemma" and "the tragedy of the commons"). This book provides a lucid, carefully assembled, entry point and survey of these kinds of topics. I love a book that maps out and gives names to things I experience every day, that gives me a higher and clearer view and understanding of these things. In my search for this book, I have assembled many more technical books (which quickly leave the plain English discussion for lots of math), and now at last I feel I can have the comprehension to move into these more advanced levels. But this book is fine in itself, for the popular audience. There is much basis for wisdom and better choices here.
Gabor Maté has done a great service in generating his new book, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. Anyone with an addicted friend or family member, persons concerned about the War on Drugs, and just ordinary citizens concerned about the drug culture will be well rewarded for reading Maté’s new book. Also the author of When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress-Disease Connection, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts starts out with a series of anecdotes introducing the reader to real drug addicts. Each has been under the care of Maté who is an MD practicing in Vancouver. These chapters are revealing, but not the meat of the book. In a later section, Maté details the neuroscience behind addiction and relates it to his own addictions (which are not drug related). In another, which I found the most helpful personally, he discusses drug policy. In particular, he distinguishes between decriminalization of drugs and making drug legal. He also approaches the issue of drug addiction as disease which has always troubled me. This is one fine book. It makes current thought on drug addiction and drug policy available to the concerned citizen. The book will be of value to the novice and professional alike. Please don’t pass this book by – it has important implications for everyone; tax payer, concerned citizen, law enforcement officer, social worker, and family member touched by addiction. It softened my heart – if I might add that. If you want to understand, this book is a good start. The reading of the text is well done.