How fast does the prolific law professor and appellate judge Richard Posner write? Faster than the Harvard University Press can edit.
Posner, as is his wont, has jumped on the news and produced a book, this time about the financial crisis. It's called "A Failure of Capitalism," and Harvard expects it to be big, as academic books go. Long known as an skeptic about government interference in economic transactions, Posner "basically calls into question his own long-standing views on capitalism and the free market," according to the Harvard University Press publicist Mary Kate Maco. The catalog copy for the book says Posner argues that the response to the crisis from both government and the economic profession has been inadequate, and he calls for new regulation of financial markets.
Like the crisis, however, the book is a target in motion. Harvard got the rights to the book on the condition that it could turn it around by April; Posner finished the manuscript on January 30. Everything was on track, with bound galleys ready for reviewers last week. Posner, however, just kept on writing: He submitted an additional 10,000 words on events that followed the submission of his first draft, which editors hastily reviewed and added. Revised galleys will be available for reviewers next week.
Posner's still not finished, however: Starting one week after the book's publication, he will begin posting weekly updates to it on a new Web site, "The Posner Economic Crisis Blog" (address to be determined).* In a sense, then, the book will continue to evolve. This isn't the judge's first foray into the blog world: He already co-writes one with the Nobel-winning economist Gary Becker. But with the Harvard book-and-blog project, it's official: Posner's thinking is too fast moving, too generative, to be captured between hard covers.
*UPDATE: I originally wrote that Harvard "plans to create a Web site dedicated to the book." I've rewritten to clarify that this will be an ordinary blog, not one created or maintained by the press's staff. HUP and Posner have evidently not yet worked out who will pay for hosting fees or other blog-related expenses.
The author is solely responsible for the content.