What We Are Reading Today: Failing in the Field

Updated 01 December 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Failing in the Field

  • Karlan and Appel show that there are important lessons to be learned from failures at every stage

Authors: Dean Karlan & Jacob Appel

All across the social sciences, from development economics to political science departments, researchers are going into the field to collect data and learn about the world. While much has been gained from the successes of randomized controlled trials, stories of failed projects often do not get told. In Failing in the Field, Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel delve into the common causes of failure in field research, so that researchers might avoid similar pitfalls in future work, according to a review on the Princeton University Press website. This book delves into failed projects and helps guide practitioners as they embark on their research. From experimental design and implementation to analysis and partnership agreements, Karlan and Appel show that there are important lessons to be learned from failures at every stage. They describe five common categories of failures, review six case studies in detail, and conclude with some reflections on best (and worst) practices for designing and running field projects, with an emphasis on randomized controlled trials.


What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

Updated 07 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Presidents of War by Michael Beschloss

  • It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War

Author Michael Beschloss has spent nearly 10 years in preparing Presidents of War for publication by reviewing diaries and declassified documents, which is quite apparent in the historical sweep and scope of the book. 

This historical narrative begins in 1807 with the assault on the USS Chesapeake and the measures taken by former President Thomas Jefferson to avoid war through the Bush administration and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

“This was a magnificent book that captured, not only history, but the humanity and struggles of our war presidents,” said a review in goodreads.com.

Presidents of War “is an extraordinary work, so extraordinary that it should be required reading for anyone seeking the presidency, vice presidency, a Senate seat, a congressional seat or any Cabinet positions in the US government,” said the review.

It said the book “chronicles the wars of the US from the war of 1812 to the Vietnam War. The author explores the reasons for the wars and often what the leaders did to circumvent Congress to enter the war without congressional approval.”