Non-fiction: September 2007 Archives

A History of Card Games cover

Most books on card games tend to focus on rules and rules alone. If there are any references to the history of card games, they tend to propagate one of the popular false myths (myth #1: crusaders brought the cards to Europe, myth #2: gypsies brought the cards to Europe, myth #3: Marco Polo brought the cards to Europe). David Parlett comes to rescue, however: his book focuses on the history and development of the card games in Western Europe, starting from their introduction in 1370s.

Parlett describes plenty of games and traces their development and evolution. Most of the book covers trick-taking games, which is of course obvious to a book covering European games. His history seems valid and well-researched and he has a knack of describing games well. While this isn't a rule book, many games are described well enough that an experienced card player can play them.

There aren't that many good books on the topic - this one's the only one I've read. If you're at all interested in the topic, this one's highly recommended. [ A History of Card Games at ] [ The History of Card Games at ] [ A History of Card Games at LibraryThing ]

Levitt is an economist who thinks outside the box. In this book, he spins some oddball ideas: how legal abortion reduces crime, how swimming pools are more dangerous than guns, the effect of "black" names for the future of the children and so on. He applies economist thinking to various subjects, often with fairly fresh results.

While he does provoke some thoughts and the New York Times journalist Dubner has written a pretty good book, somehow this doesn't entertain me quite as well as Malcolm Gladwell's books. Part of it must be the way Dubner praises Levitt in between the chapters - at least to a Finnish reader, those parts are just too egoist.

Still, Freakonomics is a hit book for a reason, and while I wouldn't suggest buying it - it's very much read and forget - reading the book isn't a waste of your time (besides, it's a really quick read), but may instead provoke some actual thinking and cause you to take new looks at old things. That's always good! [ Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything at ] [ Freakonomics at LibraryThing ]

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