Freakonomics Radio Book Club

Freakonomics Radio presents a special series, The Freakonomics Radio Book Club, a new, improved, hybrid version of the standard author interview. Each episode features a deep conversation between the author and Stephen Dubner or a guest host, interwoven with excerpts from the book in question. You’ll hear from Maria Konnikova (The Biggest Bluff), Charles Blow (The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto), Alexandra Horowitz (Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell, and Know), Caitlin Doughty (Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory), and more.

The Mom Who Stole the Blueprints for the Atomic Bomb (The Freakonomics Radio Book Club Ep. 11)

To her neighbors in the English countryside, the woman known as Mrs. Burton was a cake-baking mother of three. To the Soviet Union, she was an invaluable Cold War operative. Ben Macintyre, author of Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy, explains how the woman who fed America’s atomic secrets to the Russians also struggled to balance her family and her cause. Hosted by Sarah Lyall.

Check the Data: It’s a Man’s World (The Freakonomics Radio Book Club Ep. 10)

Do you think public bathrooms are too small, smartphones are too big, and public transit just wasn’t made for you? Then you’re probably a woman. In her book Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men, Caroline Criado Perez argues that products and processes — from medications to snowplow routes — have historically been tailored for the “standard male.” Hosted by Maria Konnikova.

All You Need Is Nudge (Ep. 474)

When Richard Thaler published Nudge in 2008 (with co-author Cass Sunstein), the world was just starting to believe in his brand of behavioral economics. How did nudge theory hold up in the face of a global financial meltdown, a pandemic, and other existential crises? With the publication of a new, radically updated edition, Thaler tries to persuade Stephen Dubner that nudging is more relevant today than ever.

Is the Future of Farming in the Ocean? (Ep. 467)

Bren Smith, who grew up fishing and fighting, is now part of a movement that seeks to feed the planet while putting less environmental stress on it. He makes his argument in a book called Eat Like a Fish; his secret ingredient: kelp. But don’t worry, you won’t have to eat it (not much, at least). An installment of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club.

How to Get Anyone to Do Anything (Ep. 463)

The social psychologist Robert Cialdini is a pioneer in the science of persuasion. His 1984 book Influence is a classic, and he has just published an expanded and revised edition. In this episode of The Freakonomics Radio Book Club, he gives a master class in the seven psychological levers that bewitch our rational minds and lead us to buy, behave, or believe without a second thought.

How Does New York City Keep Reinventing Itself? (Bonus)

In a word: networks. Once it embraced information as its main currency, New York was able to climb out of a deep fiscal (and psychic) pit. Will that magic trick still work after Covid? In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Kurt Andersen interviews Thomas Dyja, author of New York, New York, New York: Four Decades of Success, Excess and Transformation.

A Rescue Plan for Black America (Ep. 453)

New York Times columnist Charles Blow argues that white supremacy in America will never fully recede, and that it’s time for Black people to do something radical about it. In The Devil You Know: A Black Power Manifesto, he urges a “reverse migration” to the South to consolidate political power and create a region where it’s safe to be Black. (This is an episode of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club.)

How to Be Better at Death (Ep. 450)

Caitlin Doughty is a mortician who would like to put herself out of business. Our corporate funeral industry, she argues, has made us forget how to offer our loved ones an authentic sendoff. Doughty is the author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons From the Crematory. In this installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, she is interviewed by guest host Maria Konnikova.

Forget Everything You Know About Your Dog (Ep. 436)

As beloved and familiar as they are, we rarely stop to consider life from the dog’s point of view. That stops now. In this latest installment of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, we discuss Inside of a Dog with the cognitive scientist (and dog devotee) Alexandra Horowitz.

What if Your Company Had No Rules? (Bonus Episode)

Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings came to believe that corporate rules can kill creativity and innovation. In this latest edition of the Freakonomics Radio Book Club, guest host Maria Konnikova talks to Hastings about his new book, No Rules Rules, and why for some companies the greatest risk is taking no risks at all.