Cass Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard. His latest books are On Freedom and How Change Happens, which is published in April. (April 2019)

Follow Cass R. Sunstein on Twitter: @CassSunstein.

IN THE REVIEW

Wading Through the Sludge

Drawing from Abner Dean’s What Am I Doing Here? (1947), reissued by New York Review Comics

Administrative Burden: Policymaking by Other Means

by Pamela Herd and Donald P. Moynihan
According to the Office of Management and Budget, in 2015, Americans spent 9.78 billion hours on federal paperwork. The Treasury Department, including the Internal Revenue Service, accounted for the vast majority of the total: 7.36 billion hours. The Department of Health and Human Services was responsible for 696 million hours imposed on (among others) doctors, hospitals, and the beneficiaries of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. The Department of Transportation accounted for no less than 214 million hours, including elaborate requirements imposed on truck drivers, automobile companies, railroads, and airlines. Comparatively speaking, the 91 million annual hours that came from the Department of Education might not seem like much, but for administrators, teachers, and students, they were pretty burdensome.

It Can Happen Here

‘National Socialist,’ circa 1935; photograph by August Sander from his People of the Twentieth Century. A new collection of his portraits, August Sander: Persecuted/Persecutors, will be published by Steidl this fall.

They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933–45

by Milton Mayer, with a new afterword by Richard J. Evans

Broken Lives: How Ordinary Germans Experienced the Twentieth Century

by Konrad H. Jarausch
Many accounts of the Nazi period depict a barely imaginable series of events, a nation gone mad. That makes it easy to take comfort in the thought that it can’t happen again. But some depictions of Hitler’s rise are more intimate and personal. They focus less on well-known leaders, significant events, state propaganda, murders, and war, and more on the details of individual lives. They help explain how people can not only participate in dreadful things but also stand by quietly and live fairly ordinary days in the midst of them.

Listen, Economists!

Judge Guido Calabresi during arguments in Arar v. Ashcroft, New York City, December 2008. The court ruled that Maher Arar—a Canadian citizen who was wrongly deported by the US to Syria, where he was held for a year and subjected to torture—had no right to sue US government officials. In his dissent, Calabresi argued that ‘when the history of this distinguished court is written, today’s majority opinion will be viewed with dismay.’

The Future of Law and Economics: Essays in Reform and Recollection

by Guido Calabresi
Since its start in the 1960s, the field of “law and economics” has revolutionized legal thinking. It might well count as the most influential intellectual development in law in the last hundred years. It has also had a major impact on how regulators in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere …

Parking the Big Money

A beach in the Virgin Islands, which, along with countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg, are a notorious tax haven for the wealthy

The Hidden Wealth of Nations: The Scourge of Tax Havens

by Gabriel Zucman, translated from the French by Teresa Lavender Fagan, with a foreword by Thomas Piketty

The Price We Pay

a film directed by Harold Crooks, inspired by Brigitte Alepin’s 2010 book La Crise fiscale qui vient (The Coming Fiscal Crisis)
A lot of wealthy people in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere have been hiding money in foreign countries—above all, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and the Virgin Islands. As a result, they have been able to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. Until recently, however, officials have not known the magnitude of that problem.

She Was Houdini’s Greatest Challenge

Harry Houdini, about to be padlocked into a packing case and lowered into New York Harbor, 1914

The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World

by David Jaher
What is the greatest competition in American history? In boxing, you might single out Muhammad Ali against Joe Frazier, or perhaps Jack Dempsey against Gene Tunney. In chess, it has to be Bobby Fischer against Boris Spassky. In politics, it might be John F. Kennedy against Richard Nixon, or perhaps …

NYR DAILY

The Hidden Stakes of the Election

Many of the biggest battles of the day—over health care reform, financial reform, environmental protection, workplace safety, civil rights—will ultimately be settled in court by lower-court judges in rulings that will get little public attention. The Supreme Court has upheld the Affordable Care Act, but some of the rules that are necessary to implement it may turn out to be vulnerable. Unlike presidents, judges often stay in their jobs for decades, and any president is in a position to shift the judiciary in major ways. Of course it is true that the 2012 presidential election will help to establish the meaning of the Constitution. Perhaps equally important, it will help to establish the fate of numerous rules designed to protect public safety, health, and the environment.