Excerpts from Some Other Highly Critical Recent Book Reviews by Judge Richard Posner

On Moby-Dick

. . . yet, in the final analysis, Melville’s tale of obsession rings hollow from an economic perspective, and thus, proves utterly unpersuasive.  Fairly early in the text, it becomes clear that Ahab could maximize his returns by pursuing other whales, instead of Moby-Dick.  True, Ahab lost his leg to the creature, but that is a classic sunk cost. (Can you see why?) That Ahab foregoes other, better opportunities for oil and ambergris in his hunt for the white whale represents a mystery that the author never satisfactorily explains . . .

On Fifty Shades of Grey

. . . James leaves the true cliffhanger wholly unconsummated: Would a court enforce the BDSM contract that Grey wants Ana to sign? As I have argued elsewhere, courts should honor agreements of this type. Yet James fails to cite to my work, or even to the law-and-economics school generally — a gaffe that seriously undermines his analysis. . . .

On The Great Gatsby

. . . notwithstanding the confusion and ambiguity that Fitzgerald strains to sow, Gatsby’s plight, as a metaphor for the American Dream, readily can be expressed and solved via the function f(x)=(1-x)(yz2)/xyz, with the variables X, Y, and Z, representing the Jazz Age zeitgeist, the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, and green light at the end of Daisy’s dock, respectively. . . .

On The Bible

. . . although this work intermittently evinces a basic awareness of economic principles, time and again, the reader wonders whether the authors took even a single undergraduate course in this subject. Loaves and fish are scarce resources, not infinitely divisible. And no fewer than seven of the authors’ so-called “Ten Commandments” promise to reduce, rather than maximize social welfare.  By “coveting” an ox, donkey, servant, or even a wife, one may underscore that he affixes greater utility to this property than the current owner does. This manifestation of preferences is to be encouraged, not deterred.  Likewise, I have shown in my writings how to construct a working market in graven images . . .

On The Lorax

. . . if Seuss intended his work as an allegory for how high transaction costs can prevent the realization of widely held social preferences (such as environmental preservation), he should have said so directly, rather than indulging in rhymes and misdirection.  Instead, one is left to wonder: did the Lorax simply lack the necessary funds to purchase the Truffula forest from the Once-Ler? Or was the true problem the failure to assign property rights in the forest, such that it represented a “commons” incapable of proper management? . . .

On Twilight

This book sucked.



OK, not really.

One thought on “Excerpts from Some Other Highly Critical Recent Book Reviews by Judge Richard Posner

  1. Pingback: Judge Posner Book Reviews « gunnered

Leave a Reply