Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner Allen Lane, $165 There's a lot of buzz attached to this book, which went straight to the top of The New York Times best-seller list when it came out in May. Whether Freakonomics does quite so well outside the US remains to be seen. Steven Levitt is a 36-year-old professor of economics at the University of Chicago, although he professes to know little about economics. His trick is to apply microeconomic reasoning to seemingly unrelated ideas, and the result is a surprising, rich and interesting read. The standout chapter concerns crime and abortion - that the sharp drop in the crime rate in the US came 16 years after the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs Wade that made abortion legal. Levitt first published this idea in 2001 and he's still hated by both the left and the right. Freakonomics, a pretty stupid title probably dreamed up by Levitt's rather breathless wordsmith Stephen Dubner, is clearly aimed at stupid, white Americans. A lot of it is basic common sense. Just the stuff to start a healthy dinner party dialogue on subjects usually avoided in polite company.