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What Price Fame?
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Table of Contents

1. The Intensity of Fame in Modern Society 2. Why Fame Is Separated from Merit 3. The New Heroes and Role Models 4. The Test of Time 5. The Proliferation of Fame 6. The Dark Side of Fame 7. Lessons for the Future Notes References Acknowledgments Index

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Cowen's argument is broad-ranging, drawing from both classical and modern sources in ways that few authors would be equipped to do. It is intelligently and gracefully reasoned. It might persuade even some of the most severe critics of the current cultural scene to rethink some of their positions. There is an enormous amount of fresh thinking here on some extremely interesting and important topics. -- Robert H. Frank, author of Luxury Fever and (with Philip J. Cook) The Winner-Take-All Society The aim of Tyler Cowen's book is to solve some basic puzzles about fame using the tools of economics. This approach works splendidly. The questions he has chosen to address are among the most interesting one can ask about the subject; the answers he provides are chockful of counterintuitive implications, yet eminently persuasive. Even when the ideas are technical, the style is never less than lucid and is often very elegant. -- Leo Katz, author of Ill-Gotten Gains: Evasion, Blackmail, Fraud, and Kindred Puzzles of the Law

About the Author

Tyler Cowen is Professor of Economics at George Mason University.

Reviews

Primarily a look at the economic implications of our fame-driven culture, this compelling book, which reads like a long essay, also offers a philosophical meditation on the social and moral impact of fame on our public and private lives. Drawing on such diverse thinkers as Plato, St. Augustine, Jurgan Habermas and Pierre Bourdieu to bolster his arguments, Cowan, an economics professor at George Mason University, rambles through a wide variety of interrelated topics with varying success. While he engages the reader with some provocative ideas (such as that "diminishing privacy limits the creativity of performers and the diversity of society") and plenty of quirky facts (there are more than 3,000 Halls of Fame in the U.S., 30 of them for bowling alone; in 1986, the 10 public figures admired most by teenagers were entertainers), Cowan's view of fame itself is defined so loosely as to have little analytical or critical meaning. Many of his points are indefinite because they are either obvious or their basic terms are too vague: "Music stars," we are told, "use haircuts, styles of dress, and outrageous gimmicks to make themselves focal"; "the diminution of surprise plagues the aesthetic realm"; and "we can no longer look at Leonardo's Mona Lisa... with full freshness." Still, his graceful prose and refreshing perspective on the occasionally bizarre effects of capitalism will be enough to engage thoughtful readers. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Primarily a look at the economic implications of our fame-driven culture, this compelling book, which reads like a long essay, also offers a philosophical meditation on the social and moral impact of fame on our public and private lives...[Cowen's] graceful prose and refreshing perspective on the occasionally bizarre effects of capitalism will be enough to engage thoughtful readers. * Publishers Weekly *
[This book] is a short but dexterous handling of the phenomenon of fame. Addressing the American obsession with such, Cowen avoids the rhetorical pitfalls of sweeping disregard and the dangers of excessive adulation. * Doubletake *
Cowen's argument is broad-ranging, drawing from both classical and modern sources in ways that few authors would be equipped to do. It is intelligently and gracefully reasoned. It might persuade even some of the most severe critics of the current cultural scene to rethink some of their positions. There is an enormous amount of fresh thinking here on some extremely interesting and important topics. -- Robert H. Frank, author of Luxury Fever and (with Philip J. Cook) The Winner-Take-All Society
The aim of Tyler Cowen's book is to solve some basic puzzles about fame using the tools of economics. This approach works splendidly. The questions he has chosen to address are among the most interesting one can ask about the subject; the answers he provides are chockful of counterintuitive implications, yet eminently persuasive. Even when the ideas are technical, the style is never less than lucid and is often very elegant. -- Leo Katz, author of Ill-Gotten Gains: Evasion, Blackmail, Fraud, and Kindred Puzzles of the Law
Technology has increased the possibilities for being well known, and the willingness of social scientists to analyze it. The subject has been largely ignored by economists and is worthy of systematic analysis. This book is fun to read. It ranges widely and is laden with empirical examples and memorable anecdotes The arguments are provocative and thoughtful, with a little exasperation thrown in to keep readers engaged, sometimes enraged, and, in all cases on their toes. -- Sherwin Rosen * Journal of Cultural Economics *

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