What We Are Reading Today: Success and Luck by Robert H. Frank

Updated 04 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Success and Luck by Robert H. Frank

  • Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success

How important is luck in economic success? No question more reliably divides conservatives from liberals. As conservatives correctly observe, people who amass great fortunes are almost always talented and hardworking. But liberals are also correct to note that countless others have those same qualities yet never earn much.

In recent years, social scientists have discovered that chance plays a much larger role in important life outcomes than most people imagine. 

In Success and Luck, bestselling author and New York Times economics columnist Robert Frank explores the surprising implications of those findings to show why the rich underestimate the importance of luck in success— and why that hurts everyone, even the wealthy.

Frank describes how, in a world increasingly dominated by winner-take-all markets, chance opportunities and trivial initial advantages often translate into much larger ones— and enormous income differences— over time; how false beliefs about luck persist, despite compelling evidence against them; and how myths about personal success and luck shape individual and political choices in harmful ways.


What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

Updated 23 January 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Crossing the Pomerium by Michael Koortbojian

The ancient Romans famously distinguished between civic life in Rome and military matters outside the city — a division marked by the pomerium, an abstract religious and legal boundary that was central to the myth of the city’s foundation. 

Michael Koortbojian explores how the Romans used social practices and public monuments to assert their capital’s distinction from its growing empire, to delimit the proper realms of religion and law from those of war and conquest, and to establish and disseminate so many fundamental Roman institutions across three centuries of imperial rule. Crossing the Pomerium probes such topics as the appearance in the city of Romans in armor, whether in representation or in life, the role of religious rites on the battlefield, and the military image of Constantine on the arch built in his name. 

The book reveals how, in these instances and others, the ancient ideology of crossing the pomerium reflects the efforts of Romans not only to live up to the ideals they had inherited, but also to reconceive their past and to validate contemporary practices during a time when Rome enjoyed growing dominance in the Mediterranean world.