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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (248 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita Narrator: Sean Runnette Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9780307702142
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Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a master of game theory, which is a fancy label for a simple idea: People compete, and they always do what they think is in their own best interest. Bueno de Mesquita uses game theory and its insights into human behavior to predict and even engineer political, financial, and personal events. His forecasts, which have been employed by everyone from the CIA to major business firms, have an amazing 90 percent accuracy rate, and in this dazzling and revelatory book he shares his startling methods and lets you play along in a range of high-stakes negotiations and conflicts.

Revealing the origins of game theory and the advances made by John Nash, the Nobel Prize—winning scientist perhaps best known from A Beautiful Mind, Bueno de Mesquita details the controversial and cold-eyed system of calculation that he has since created, one that allows individuals to think strategically about what their opponents want, how much they want it, and how they might react to every move. From there, Bueno de Mesquita games such events as the North Korean disarmament talks and the Middle East peace process and recalls, among other cases, how he correctly predicted which corporate clients of the Arthur Andersen accounting firm were most likely engaged in fraudulent activity (hint: one of them started with an E). And looking as ever to the future, Bueno de Mesquita also demonstrates how game theory can provide successful strategies to combat both global warming (instead of relying on empty regulations, make nations compete in technology) and terror (figure out exactly how much U.S. aid will make Pakistan fight the Taliban).

But as Bueno de Mesquita shows, game theory isn’t just for saving the world. It can help you in your own life, whether you want to succeed in a lawsuit (lawyers argue too much the merits of the case and question too little the motives of their opponents), elect the CEO of your company (change the system of voting on your board to be more advantageous to your candidate), or even buy a car (start by knowing exactly what you want, call every dealer in a fifty-mile radius, and negotiate only over the phone).

Savvy, provocative, and shockingly effective, The Predictioneer’s Game will change how you understand the world and manage your future. Life’s a game, and how you play is whether you win or lose.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Bueno de Mesquita has successfully turned the art of decision-making into a science - and enriched our understanding of politics and business in the process. Dispensing with clichés about rationality and irrationality, he explains how to predict behavior based on the relevant players’ interests and contexts. Bueno de Mesquita says he does not have a crystal ball, but this book gives readers the ingredients to build their own. Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers are Redefining Global Competition in the 21st Century
  • Fruitful reading that will make it difficult to look at the world through quite the same eyes as in one’s virginal, pre—game theory days. Kirkus Reviews
  • Provocative. . . . [this] cogently argued and fascinating brief will appeal to anyone interested in complex national-security issues. Publishers Weekly
  • Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has demonstrated the power of using game theory and related assumptions of rational and self-seeking behavior in predicting the outcome of important political and legal processes. No one will fail to appreciate and learn from this well-written and always interesting account of his procedures. Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize-winning economist; Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
  • The Predictioneer's Game teaches us that we can predict how a conflict may be resolved if we carefully consider the incentives for all parties in the conflict.  In an extraordinary range of applications, from ancient history to tomorrow's headlines, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita demonstrates the power of the game-theoretic approach. Roger B. Myerson, Nobel Prize-winning economist; Professor, University of Chicago
  • Organized thought applied to problems can illuminate and help solve them.  This easy and enjoyable read is, in many ways, a how-to book for that very purpose. George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State
  • Shakespeare said that poetry was giving ‘to airy nothingness a local habitation and a name.’ Game theory has never been airy nothingness, but to those who through lack of exposure or (like me) the wrong kind of exposure years ago may have had such thoughts, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita follows Shakespeare's path and opens a new world.  In Bueno de Mesquita's hands, game theory becomes a fascinating tool for understanding everything from how to steer the selection of a CEO to great swaths of both the past and future.  Don't miss this one if you care about understanding how decisions are made–pretty much all decisions. R. James Woolsey, former Director of Central Intelligence; Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nathan | 1/26/2014

    " Too much ego, not enough detail. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 1/3/2014

    " Truly a fascinating book! De Mesquita has used the game theory of John Nash to develop a series of models that help him to predict future events. The predictions are not simply binary (yes/no) prognostications--they are in-depth analyses that describe what will happen, and why. The author claims a 90% success rate. The last few chapters include a set of detailed predictions made by HIS STUDENTS using his models. Some of the predictions (most notably, Pakistan) are starting to come to pass, now. Others will be proven--or disproven--within the near future. Of course, this book is sort of an advertisement for the author's consulting company. Nevertheless, I've been recommending this book to everybody. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Larissa | 12/24/2013

    " This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. It's a fascinating read! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emma | 12/13/2013

    " Pretty boring. I was excited about a book that sounded like game theory, but this was really disappointing. And tendentious. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 12/12/2013

    " A really remarkable book. The author is the pre-eminent scholar on applying algorithmic techniques to predicting macro scale problems/solutions in economics and politics. It has interesting and wide-scale implications. It shows just how predictable and primitive human incentives are. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Converse | 9/28/2013

    " Entertaining applications of game theory (w/o much math, mainly computer simulation results) to politics, lawsuits, and buying car. May be worth it for the car buying advice alone. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aagave | 7/23/2013

    " It discusses a game theory model without revealing the model. So it's lessons from an obscured model... Which makes the application of the lessons limited in their value. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Niko05 | 5/3/2013

    " Though the subject was fascinating, the author dd a poor job illustrating his points. SO I gave it a weak 3 stars only because it was a tough subject to tackle... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rob | 4/27/2013

    " Really fantastic book. I am sure that the scope of his methods are polarizing, but I am in. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mark Babcock | 6/15/2012

    " Interesting guy who can predict the future better than the experts. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amber | 5/1/2012

    " Short, easy read; I already knew the basic game theory, but the stuff on design of game based on expert knowledge was insightful; didn't blather on "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Daniel O'dell | 8/4/2011

    " I've enjoyed learning the basics of game theory without the math, but find the book overall somewhat tedious. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jacob | 5/10/2011

    " A popularized (no equations) book on using game theory to predict networked political problems which often turn out to be resolved or described by a mathematical model of the political actors' self-interest. Worth reading to realize that such models are usually intuitive. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Fernando | 3/30/2011

    " The topic is extremely interesting, but I was not captivated by the writing style: too dense, too focused on the author's accomplishments as opposed to the subject itself.
    Still an interesting read for those interested in conflict resolution and game theory.
    "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nathan | 2/13/2011

    " Too much ego, not enough detail. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Paul | 1/7/2011

    " A lot of stories about how cool game theory is. Not so much game theory. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Emma | 8/3/2010

    " Pretty boring. I was excited about a book that sounded like game theory, but this was really disappointing. And tendentious. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Converse | 7/5/2010

    " Entertaining applications of game theory (w/o much math, mainly computer simulation results) to politics, lawsuits, and buying car. May be worth it for the car buying advice alone.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rob | 3/23/2010

    " Really fantastic book. I am sure that the scope of his methods are polarizing, but I am in. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jon | 12/29/2009

    " A really remarkable book. The author is the pre-eminent scholar on applying algorithmic techniques to predicting macro scale problems/solutions in economics and politics. It has interesting and wide-scale implications. It shows just how predictable and primitive human incentives are. "

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About the Author

Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is the Julius Silver Professor of Politics and director of the Alexander Hamilton Center for Political Economy at New York University, as well as a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is the author of several books, including The Predictioneer’s Game; Principles of International Politics; Predicting Politics; Strategy, Risk and Personality in Coalition Politics; and the coauthor of many others. Bruce received his doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan in 1971 and a doctorate from the University of Groningen in 1999. He is the 2007 recipient of South Korea’s DMZ Peace Prize, and the recipient of many other academic honors for his teaching and research. Bruce lives with his wife, Arlene, in San Francisco and New York.

About the Narrator

Sean Runnette, an Earphones Award–winning narrator, has also directed and produced more than two hundred audiobooks, including several Audie Award winners. He is a member of the American Repertory Theater company and has toured the United States and internationally with ART and Mabou Mines. His television and film appearances include Two If by Sea, Cop Land, Sex and the City, Law & Order, the award-winning film Easter, and numerous commercials.