All of the essays in this new collection by Thomas Schelling convey his unique perspective on individuals and society. This perspective has several characteristics - it is strategic in that it assumes that an important part of people"s behavior is motivated by the thought of influencing other people"s expectations; it views the mind as being separable into two or more parts (rational/irrational; present-minded/future-minded); it is motivated by policy concerns-smoking and other addictions, global warming, segregation, nuclear war; and while it accepts many of the basic assumptions of economics-that people are forward-looking, rational decision makers, that resources are scarce, and that incentives are important-it is open to modifying them when appropriate, and open to the findings and insights of other social science disciplines.
Thomas Schelling, 2005 Nobel laureate in economics, is interested in the strategies--rational, irrational, mean, kind--that people use to constrain their behavior. In these essays, he looks at addiction, temptation and resolve, as well as the use of threats, promises and bluffing. What`s fascinating is that he applies his analysis of these strategies not only to individual behavior but also to critical issues like race relations, abortion and the behavior of nations--for example, international agreements to reduce greenhouse gases. Schelling is that rarest of creatures, an economist who writes clearly, takes on practical questions and thinks them through alongside his reader. He is delightful to read.
--Susan Salter Reynolds (Los Angeles Times )