The Opinion Makers
by David W. Moore (Beacon, $24)
Former Gallup pollster David Moore “is not shy about telling tales out of school,” said Thomas Riehle in The Wall Street Journal. His slim new book blasts the polling industry for distorting the democratic process by routinely bullying respondents into seeming more opinionated than they really are. But while The Opinion Makers reveals many flaws in today’s polling methods, it badly neglects what seems to be the industry’s true Achilles’ heel: Four out of five people reached by pollsters now refuse to discuss their opinions at all.
by Bill Tancer (Hyperion, $26)
One place that the people can’t hide their true nature is online, said John Mangels in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In Click, marketing expert Bill Tancer writes in a “breezy, gee-whiz tone” about what our collective Web-surfing habits reveal, and the picture isn’t pretty. Sure, visits to porn sites are declining relative to all other online traffic, but Tancer’s absorbing study makes clear that the Internet is “a vast enabler of insecurities, perversions, and run-amok consumerism.”
by Stephen Baker (Houghton Mifflin, $26)
BusinessWeek’s Stephen Baker “could easily have gone for spooky” in this group portrait of the new class of math geeks who are analyzing our every Web click, cell phone call, or credit card purchase, said Barbara Kiviat in Time. Instead, he often emphasizes their positive contributions, giving readers “deeply reported” accounts on the algorithms used by dating websites, the digital footprints that trip up would-be terrorists, and future medical technologies that will spot our illnesses even before we do.
State by State
edited by Matt Weiland and Sean Wilsey (Ecco, $30)
Part of the appeal of this “highly readable” collection of essays is that it makes America seem too diverse to capture with a single description, said Larry Cox in The Arizona Republic. Seen one state at a time through the eyes of such writers as Dave Eggers, Lydia Millet, Anthony Bourdain, and William T. Vollman, America suddenly appears—“for all its bland interstate highways and big-box retailers”—to be endlessly varied.