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I am looking for a book on game theory, but I am not looking for a textbook. What I am after is more of a narrative form book that still provides valuable insights about game theory that I can pick up for my night-time reading. I am in my first year of an Economics PhD program, so I do enough difficult reading/thinking during the day. What I'd like is a more heuristic breakdown of some famous games, light on math, that explains using more words rather than complex notation (of which I get enough of during lectures), or perhaps a book about events surrounding game theory over the years that can give me valuable insights into "game theory thinking." In other words, a book about game theory that isn't overly academic.

Any and all recommendations are welcome and appreciated.

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I will also recommend The Art of Strategy by Dixit and Nabebuff.

But do also check out Game Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Ken Binmore.

I am not sure how much game theory you will learn from the recommended books by Kahneman or Roth (the Kahneman book is not about game theory; the Roth book is about matching and touches on game theory rather tangentially.)

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with you on the Roth and Kahneman book, but I thought that was the point. I feel like someone who does a PhD in economics should be familiar with basic game theoretic concepts already. $\endgroup$ – Bayesian Mar 16 at 17:04
  • $\begingroup$ Good point... and of course the Roth/Kahneman books are excellent recommendations in any case $\endgroup$ – afreelunch Mar 16 at 17:15
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"The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist's Guide to Success in Business and Life" By Dixit and Nalebuff. It's recommended by Steven Levitt so I guess it is fun.

And also "Thinking, Fast and Slow" is a great book if you are interested on behavioral econ.

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I am not going to recommend a book but

  • a short paper by Avinash Dixit Prof at Princeton and published in the Journal of Education where it talks about restoring fun to game theory. He suggests using interactive games to be played in the classroom or in computer clusters, clips from movies to be screened and discussed, and excerpts from novels and historical books to be read and discussed.
  • and an interactive game theory simulator that shows how trust and mistrust evolve.

Update Let me recommend The Predictioneer's Game, written by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita a political scientist. A book praised by 2 Nobel Prize-winning economists!

“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.

“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.

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I really like "Who Gets What — and Why" by Al Roth. This book is not about game theory per se, but about an important application of game theoretic concepts. Since you are doing a PhD, you do not need a book explaining the concepts. This book is about market design and incentives. I think it is a very accessible introduction to (and celebration of) the field. Even for non-economists it is an interesting read.

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