Books by William Poundstone

NON-FICTION
Released: July 19, 2016

"The book reads like an extended game of Trivial Pursuit, featuring some who play very well and many more who play very poorly."
The story of the dumbing-down of the American brain, as we have all become increasingly dependent on letting our computers think for us. Read full book review >
Released: June 3, 2014

"Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers (2008) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan (2007) fascinated readers with evidence that reality regularly contradicts common sense. Poundstone delivers modestly useful advice for taking advantage of this, but mostly his book is another delightful addition to the everything-you-thought-you-knew-is-wrong genre."
An ingenious guide to outsmarting others by predicting their choices when they are trying to be unpredictable. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 12, 2010

"Readable and revealing."
Bright analysis of the psychology of pricing. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Feb. 12, 2008

"Convincing, entertaining and authoritative overview of voting systems and their pitfalls."
Why the United States's pluralistic voting system doesn't always pick the "right" winner—and, more importantly, what could be done to make it better. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 14, 2005

"Enticing elucidation beneath good humored history."
Is there a secret mathematical equation to beat the stock-market smarties and outsmart the blackjack dealers? There sure is, says this erudite author. You can bet on it. Read full book review >
CARL SAGAN by William Poundstone
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 21, 1999

"A readable and comprehensive life of a fascinating subject."
Carl Sagan was without question the most famous scientist since Einstein. Read full book review >
PRISONER'S DILEMMA by William Poundstone
Released: Feb. 1, 1992

"The fact that von Neumann, a lifelong cynic, had a deathbed conversion to Catholicism not so subtly underscores the presence of paradoxes and contradictions that characterize human as opposed to mathematical behavior."
Here's one version: You and your partner are captured. If you rat on him ("defect'') and he is silent, you get off scot-free and he gets three years—and vice versa. If you both rat on each other, you both get less lengthy sentences, two years; but if you both clam up (cooperate with each other), you get one year each. What to do? It is the dilemma posed by the prisoner's dilemma that is the theme of this latest volume from Poundstone (Labyrinths of Reason, 1988, etc.)—an intriguing exercise in point/counterpoint as Poundstone intertwines the development of game theory with a running biography of one of game theory's founders, John von Neumann. Read full book review >