January 27, 2007

· Books · Sociology

My book, Last Best Gifts: Altruism and the Market for Human Blood and Organs, is reviewed this weekend by Virginia Postrel in the New York Times. Obviously, I’m delighted: Virginia’s review is generous and perceptive, and in many ways it’s hard to think of a better choice of reviewer. For one thing, as many readers will probably know, Virginia is herself an organ donor—she gave one of her kidneys to her friend Sally Satel—and now regularly writes about the organ shortage and market incentives. For another, she has also followed the growth of economic sociology as a subfield, writing a very good piece about it for the Boston Globe a while ago. And last, she has a generally libertarian point of view, and the stereotype is that libertarians and academic sociologists should be flinging abuse at each other on the topic of altruism, self-interest and the market— especially when it comes to markets in things like human organs. I wrote the book partly in the hope that it would advance the debate beyond some of the entrenched clichés that both sides cling to. Virginia’s review encourages me that I might have been in some way successful in this respect.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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