Book cover

by Henry Farrell on November 18, 2008

My first book is coming out with Cambridge next year, _The Political Economy of Trust: Interests, Institutions and Inter-Firm Cooperation_, and the publisher is asking me whether I want to suggest a cover image. My first thought – to do a Wordle of the text – apparently isn’t going to work – and my visual imagination and knowledge of the visual arts leaves a fair amount to be desired. So I thought that I would throw it open to CT readers, who might have some ideas of where to go for good images (or even some proposed images of their own). The themes of the book include trust and distrust, the mechanical engineering industries in Germany and Italy and the Sicilian Mafia. Possibilities might include classical art, cartoons, political images related to the above. Ideally, nothing with expensive rights of reproduction, since I think that I have to cough up the fees myself, but any suggestions would be gratefully appreciated (and reciprocated with the admittedly modest reward of acknowledgment in the book’s introduction).



cognitive dissident 11.18.08 at 5:26 pm

What makes the Wordle idea unworkable? (It sounds like an idea worth exploring…it would be cool to have a book that could truly be judged by its cover!)


Kieran Healy 11.18.08 at 5:40 pm

I strongly recommend a still shot from the movie of The DaVinci Code. Or something obvious.


Peanuts Fan 11.18.08 at 5:43 pm

A Peanuts cartoon with Lucy pulling away the football and Charlie screaming AUUGH?


Alex K 11.18.08 at 5:53 pm

I have a feeling that a still from The DaVinci code would fall under images with ‘expensive reproduction rights.’ Plus, it seems a little cheap and gimmicky to link the book to a huge blockbuster movie. My intuition is that it would be best to go with something a little less easily identifiable, something not already attached to another book, movie etc in the public psyche.


Righteous Bubba 11.18.08 at 5:57 pm

Poker-playing dogs.


OneEyedMan 11.18.08 at 6:11 pm

As the most perfidious man for much of history, Judas Iscariot seems topical. Maybe this isn’t your style, but there are many beautiful paintings of Judas that are long out of copyright.


Chris Bertram 11.18.08 at 6:33 pm

Acrobats, or maybe just their hands, with one depending on the other.


richard 11.18.08 at 6:57 pm

there’s a traditional symbol of mutual trust that shows a ring of hands grasping each other by the wrist – a version of it was once minted on the 50p piece. I reckon of you just did 4 hands you’d get enough of a suggestion of the equal-armed cross to prompt a suggest the Sicilian mob.


Alex 11.18.08 at 7:00 pm

Hello, I am the elder offspring of commenter #5 and I’ve just been directed here – I’m always looking for artistic jobs and projects to do. Some of my art is available on my blog – linked, as is my email – feel free to get in touch with me and I can show you more and discuss ideas. I’d be more than happy to have a go at this in return for the acknowledgement. I have An Imagination.




richard 11.18.08 at 7:01 pm

Gah; what happened to my typing? I reckon if you did a ring of 4 hands you’d get enough of a suggestion of the equal-armed cross to evoke the famous logo of the Godfather movies, without getting into any copyright issues.


Martin 11.18.08 at 7:02 pm

There are a bunch of paintings of people cheating at cards and engaging in similar activities by fairly major Dutch and other artists in the 1600s. Apart from the subject they look like just the way you’d expect paintings of the time to look. Just google something like “painting card players cheat.” One name I can think of is De La Tour.


Bill Harshaw 11.18.08 at 7:12 pm

Three pictures of hands: one of handshake, two singles with fingers crossed.


rsw 11.18.08 at 7:48 pm

Perhaps a cartoon reminiscent of Spy vs. Spy wherein the two are shaking hands while one holds a gun and the other a bomb?


R.Mutt 11.18.08 at 7:49 pm

The themes of rings, hands, betrayal of trust, crime in Italy and classical art, plus a connection to Sicily, are combined in Caravaggio’s painting The Fortune Teller, which is of course in the public domain. A young man looks into the eyes of a pretty gypsy girl who is reading his palm and fails to notice that she is stealing his ring. The entire painting is nice – especially the Louvre version which might be the Caravaggio mentioned in the second sentence of The Da Vinci Code – but a close up of the hands might also work.

(Following Martin’s idea, Caravaggio also painted The Cardsharps.)


duncan 11.18.08 at 8:01 pm

Re #11: Georges de la Tour’s “The Cheat” has recently been used on the cover of a book.


Lee Sigelman 11.18.08 at 8:06 pm

A bagel. That would say it all.


mollymooly 11.18.08 at 8:14 pm

Two corporate suits playing that trust game where one falls back and the other catches (or doesn’t)


arthur 11.18.08 at 8:50 pm

Here’s a possibility.


t e whalen 11.18.08 at 9:34 pm

Are you going to do better than this? Probably not.


Mike 11.18.08 at 9:46 pm

What, me worry?


rea 11.18.08 at 10:01 pm


nick 11.18.08 at 10:58 pm

haven’t read this thread so close, and therefore fear hotlink pwnage, but I think a well-known image would more than suffice:


MarkUp 11.18.08 at 11:17 pm

“Let me put it to you this way: I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and now I intend to spend it.”

“They have miscalculated me as a leader.”

And of course a pikture suitable for framing.


jholbo 11.19.08 at 12:28 am

A picture of Rick Astley, dancing.


Aaron Swartz 11.19.08 at 12:57 am

I’m looking forward to the book, but I think it’s going to be tough for you to beat the Wordle.


Maurice Meilleur 11.19.08 at 2:28 am

Bruegel the Elder’s Blind Leading the Blind. Example here.


tom s. 11.19.08 at 3:56 am

jholbo wins


novakant 11.19.08 at 8:10 am

sex sells!


Henry (not the famous one) 11.19.08 at 2:03 pm

A heroic sized hand coming toward the reader offering a handshake. Better if you could get a painted version–which might be unreasonably pricey, who knows?–to emphasize that it is meant to illustrate the more abstract notion of trust, not just a particular handshake on a particular deal.

But no, I have no ready-made image.


stostosto 11.19.08 at 3:21 pm

I think if Henry doesn’t take Alex @9 up on his offer, he is missing a great opportunity.


Shawn 11.19.08 at 3:26 pm
Although it may be seen as anti-semitic.


chris y 11.19.08 at 5:28 pm


Alex 11.19.08 at 5:57 pm

Cheers stostosto!

Unfortunately all the numbers changed, so I must point out that Righteous Bubba is not my father.


Doug G. 11.19.08 at 6:31 pm

On trust – I envision trapeze artists – one in mid-air who has just let go of his/her swing and another positioned with arms out stretched to catch his/her partner. One can substitute a cheerleader thrown into the air with the catchers below.

On distrust – I think of windows with bars, missile defense shields, the Berlin Wall, switchblades, barbed wire, the NRA, Joe Liberman.

Not sure how to synthesize the two into a coherent ‘theme’…


Rothbart 11.19.08 at 9:36 pm

How about Rembrandt’s The Syndics of the Clothmakers Guild, ?

The blurb in the link suggests why it might be apposite, and it is of course a grea painting.


Rothbart 11.19.08 at 9:37 pm

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