The one subject that serious students want most to know about, other than their specialty, is how academic life is lived and how scholarly work is carried out. Their curiosity is equally shared by those interested in how to improve the quality and quantity of their work. With few exceptions, the time honored word-of-mouth approach is all there has been until now; how one works is rarely a subject seriously discussed in print.
Craftways is intended to address these concerns and needs. Aaron Wildavsky has long been admired as one of the most productive political scientists of his generation. Repeated expressions of interest in his scholarly craft led him to gather together his essays on how he works. Included are chapters on how to read social science -“not always everyone’s favorite pastime” – how to work with others on collaborative projects, and how to improve one’s academic writing. The question of time, the most limited resource available to most scholars, is addressed in an amusing chapter, “The Organization of Time in Scholarly Activities Carried Out Under American Conditions in Resource-Rich Universities.” He includes a section on interviewing, focusing not only on the process, but on the spirit of scholarly enterprise that should animate it.
The last part of the book is purely personal, emphasizing the familial and background variables that have made Wildavsky who he is and play a large part in how he goes about his work. This wise volume, by a master of his craft, should be of broad interest to students and faculty in the social sciences.