Summary of The Company of Strangers

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The Company of Strangers book summary


9 Overall

3 Applicability

10 Innovation

8 Style


Credit author Paul Seabright's achievement on several scores. First, he is an economist who thinks outside the supply-and-demand box, and whose thoughts actually are comprehensible to the average reader. Second, his ideas are original, blending evolution, economics and sociology. In his view, the daily trusting interaction of complete strangers is a marvel that is unprecedented in the animal kingdom. Moreover, this high degree of non-familial social cooperation has only arisen in the past 10,000 years or so, despite the six to seven-million-year existence of Homo sapiens. Although the average businessperson probably has no direct application for Seabright's book, it's interesting, worthwhile reading anyway. In a world where the need for global cooperation is greater, and its existence more fragile, recommends this book for its unique, valuable perspective.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How the level of cooperation among humans is extraordinary, given its absence in the animal kingdom;
  • What explains the trust among strangers that supports the global economy; and
  • What are the social ramifications of this trust.

About the Author

Paul Seabright is a contributor to the London Review of Books and a professor of economics at the University of Toulouse, France. Previously, he served as a fellow of All Souls College in Oxford and of Churchill College in Cambridge.



Strangers in a Strange Land
Would you dare to trust your life to someone you've never met? You wouldn't? In modern life, you trust your life to strangers daily. When you board a plane, train, motor coach, cab or limo, you put your life in the hands of people you believe or hope have learned...

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