I clicked this into my library without realising a) that it was abridged and b) that it is the 2000 edition not the 2005 revised edition. In other words, in my appreciation this purchase is a complete mistake. Why would the 2000 edition even still be in stock, once the post-2001 crash version is available? I'm going to try and send this book back.
Tim Harford gets better and better, now with a whole thoughtful book exploring the concept of evolution as applied to markets and other complex systems. He is really becoming the UK's Paul Krugman with his colourful analogies that bring to life economic concepts for the lay person - Coco bonds as airbags and 'economic Bulldogs' for the unintended consequences of well intended policy. So why only four stars? Well, most unfortunately, Tim (who, as we all know, is himself a highly competent presenter, well able to read his own book) delegated this task to some actor who decided to deliver various lengthily quoted passages in the supposedly appropriate accent. So Adam Smith appears with a rich scottish burr, and various Americans with a transatlantic drawl. This is irritating and unnecessary (and probably inaccurate) but tolerable. It becomes unbearable when we have third world economists such as Muhammad Yunus (founder of the Grameen bank). The narrator can't actually face the horror of putting on a faux-Bengali accent so he does a sort of 'humble peasant voice' instead. Made me squirm. Tim - read your own books - please.
...Oh yes I can: this book does for High Frequency Trading what 'The Emperor of all Maladies' did for Cancer. It takes a complicated thing that you hear about every now and again in the news, puts it centre stage, explains it in delightful depth to an intelligent layperson, while delivering the excitement and suspense of a novel. As a bonus (again both books) they lay out the moral issues and moral dilemmas, so that the book is much more than a simple documentary of the phenomenon. And both books have more or less happy endings. By the end the good guys are winning. You could not ask for more from a book.
Narration - very professional. Had the impression that the reader understood the material - not always the case with a book like this. I found the ‘stopping points’ for the ipod well organised (by chapter) but rather spaced out. Each chunk was about 1 hour 30 mins, whereas I find 20 minute chunks more user-friendly.