Zombie Doppelganger

by John Q on April 10, 2011

I got an email the other day, trying to set up an interview about Zombie Economics: How Dead Ideas Still Walk Among Us. Shortly afterwards there was a cancellation – they actually wanted the author of Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance, due to be released in May.

I’m well aware that there’s no copyright in book titles (Zombie Econ was originally going to be called “Dead Ideas from New Economists, and back in the 90s I wrote one which the publisher insisted on calling Great Expectations), but I can’t help wondering about the implications for sales. At least for the moment they don’t look too bad. According to Amazon, 12 per cent of people who viewed the doppelganger ultimately bought my book, while the proportion going the other way is zero (although some zombie fans go for Chris Harman’s Zombie Capitalism). But I imagine that’s the result of bad search results among people looking for mine, rather than a spillover from those looking for the doppelganger. If so, I imagine the flow will reverse when the new one is released.

Are there other interesting examples of book title recycling, or interesting ideas for new takes on classic titles?



ejh 04.10.11 at 12:11 pm



of which I was the author*, was published in October 1997.

Almost simultaneously, this


was published.

[* I didn’t choose the clunky subtitle though, nor would I have done so.]


Jeffrey C. Goldfarb 04.10.11 at 12:36 pm

I published a book in 1992 on the prospects for democracy after the collapse of communism, using the fairly common title, AFTER THE FALL, http://www.amazon.com/After-Fall-Jeffrey-Goldfarb/dp/B001MSICHM/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1302438518&sr=8-2
Weeks before, a collection on the same topic with same title edited by Robin Blackburn was published, http://www.amazon.com/After-Fall-Failure-Communism-Socialism/dp/0860915409/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1302438486&sr=8-7

Neither book set records in sales. Mine has been out of print for years.


commentaktor 04.10.11 at 12:44 pm

zombie book titles keep coming.


James Wimberley 04.10.11 at 1:53 pm

Alistair Horne: A Savage War of Peace: Algeria 1954-1962, 1977.
Max Boot, The Savage Wars Of Peace: Small Wars And The Rise Of American Power, 2002.

Even though the phrase is a quotation from Kipling, I think this is title plagiarism by Boot. Given his topic, he cannot have been unaware of Horne’s classic history.


Antonio Conselheiro 04.10.11 at 1:58 pm

There are as many as 13 books named “Peace like a River”, including a recent best-seller. Five or so of them have subtitles, and at least one was reissued under a different title.


Chris 04.10.11 at 2:07 pm

There are a bunch of books called “We The People”. Bruce Ackerman even apologizes for stealing the title in the introduction of his.


GregMc 04.10.11 at 2:29 pm

@Jeffrey C. Goldfarb: I was assigned your book as an undergrad right after it came out. As I recall, we all agreed that it was far superior to the other After the Fall, particularly as it fit in nicely with the course syllabus!


R.Mutt 04.10.11 at 2:52 pm

There are two liberals named Paul with a conscience: Wellstone and Krugman.


Mike Otsuka 04.10.11 at 2:53 pm


philofra 04.10.11 at 3:16 pm

I am thinking of a recent book by Dambisa Moyo called “How the West Was Lost”. My recycled title is How the West Was Lost and the Rest Was Won.

Moyo’s book is about the complacency that led to the West’s decline. My twist is that in its purported decline the West has snared and convinced the rest of the world to become more like it. Moyo opines that the transfer of manufacturing and wealth from West to East has been a tremendous loss for the West. But in that happing the West, with its transfer of both values and debt, has transformed the Rest into becoming more like self, making the world a more cohesive and stable place.

It’s a nonzero sum game where the likes of China and America are in each other’s pockets and dependent on the other.


Myles 04.10.11 at 3:43 pm

I just bought a copy of This Side of Paradise, and was surprised to discover that in addition to the version by F. Scott Fitzgerald, there is the YA fiction novel by Steve L. Layne, about “Gr 8 Up-High school junior Jack,” and was reviewed by a Joel Shoemaker from Iowa as having “too many weaknesses and absurdities in the plot to enjoy even the first half of the book as realistic fiction, and too many internal inconsistencies to enjoy it as horror/science fiction.”


It’s like one of those ghastly pieces of Americana out of the Great Gatsby.


Pär Isaksson 04.10.11 at 4:26 pm

Two anthologies: Deliberative Democracy (edited by Jon Elster) and Deliberative democracy : essays on reason and politics (edited by James Bohman and William Rehg).


Theophylact 04.10.11 at 5:00 pm

The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck (1915), by James Branch Cabell, and The Rivet in Grandfather’s Neck (1970), by Bruce Elliott. Mere coincidence? I’ve read both, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what Elliot had in mind when he chose the title. (Cabell makes it clear that it’s a reference to a Hans Christian Andersen story.)


bianca steele 04.10.11 at 6:30 pm

There are many books titled Unholy Alliance, but a book on the Boston mobster Whitey Bulger’s[1] dealings with the FBI managed to use both that and Black Mass in the same title.


tomslee 04.10.11 at 7:25 pm

Sometimes it seems like Bitter Grounds is used for anything to do with coffee or Central America. Or Bitter Fruit if it’s Guatemala.


Bryan 04.10.11 at 7:35 pm

The Replacements Let It Be


dbk 04.10.11 at 8:24 pm

Byzantium after Byzantium (Byzance après Byzance) by Romanian historian N. Iorga (1935) and Byzantium after the Nation State (ΤΟ ΒΥΖΑΝΤΙΟ ΜΕΤΑ ΤΟ ΕΘΝΟΣ: Το πρόβλημα της συνέχειας στις βαλκανικές ιστοριογραφίες) by the Greek historian Demetrios Stamatopoulos (2009). The resemblance here, however, is deliberate.


Vladimir 04.10.11 at 9:17 pm

Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace

Harry Elmer Barnes, 1953:

Gore Vidal, 2002:


Antonio Conselheiro 04.10.11 at 9:46 pm

Philip Roth’s recent novel “The Plot Against America”, in which U.S. Senator Burton K. Wheeler figure as Charles Lindbergh’s quasi-Nazi running mate, was preceded by an earlier “The Plot Against America” (1946), a novel by one John Kennedy (D.G. Kin, pen name) from a Red point of view in which Burton K Wheeler figures as a quasi-Nazi. I haven’t finished Kennedy’s novel but it’s well-written and amusing so far.


Robert 04.10.11 at 10:28 pm

The excellent explanation of the then-current healthcare crisis, circa 1993, by Harvard professor Marc Roberts: “Your Money or Your Life”

The excellent explanation of the then-current healthcare crisis, circa 2005, by Harvard professor David Cutler: “Your Money or Your Life”


Natilo Paennim 04.10.11 at 11:38 pm

At this point, upon a cursory inspection, it looks like you could just about have the entire lyrics of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” arranged on your bookshelf. I haven’t searched for every single line, so there may be some bigger sections missing (especially in the last verses I imagine). With A Glory In His Bosom has not yet been taken, so perhaps someone could work on finding a Christian genderqueer person to write a biography about?


Antonio Conselheiro 04.11.11 at 1:01 am

A Marseillaise bookshelf would be intense:

Tyranny’s Bloody Banner
Those Ferocious Soldiers
Impure Blood Waters Our Furrows
Traitors and Conjured Kings
The Old Slavery
Mercenary Phalanxes
Tyrants and Traitors Tremble
Tigers Rip Their Mother’s Breast


Myles 04.11.11 at 4:44 am

Tigers Rip Their Mother’s Breast

Too bad the Tiger Mother didn’t take advantage of that.


James Rice 04.11.11 at 10:47 am

Erik Olin Wright’s Class Counts was published in 1997. Ten years later a doppelganger by Allan C Ornstein appeared.


Anderson 04.11.11 at 10:52 am

Myles, that will be her self-pitying memoir after the kids she pushed into neurosis become dropout potheads.


trane 04.11.11 at 12:35 pm

In the department of ‘I once wrote’:

I used the English title “Indonesia: the State of Poverty” for an MA thesis, inspired by the Danish economist Kjedl Philip’s “Staten og Fattigdommen” from 1947. I thought it was original for about five minutes, until I found this:


stostosto 04.11.11 at 12:42 pm

(It’s Doppelgänger, not Doppelganger).


rea 04.11.11 at 12:42 pm

Taltos by Anne Rice.

Taltos by Steven Brust


stostosto 04.11.11 at 12:43 pm

(That was a diacritical comment).


Antonio Conselheiro 04.11.11 at 1:39 pm

The 1946 The Plot Against America was published by John Kennedy in Missoula, but the actual author was D.G. Plotkin, who started off as a poet and ended up as a versatile hack. His other books include Women without men: True stories of lesbian love in Greenwich Village , Rage in Singapore, Dictionary of American Maxims, and Ghetto Gutters and other poems. He is thought to have written My Sister and I, a forged Nietzsche diary confessing to incest. His anti-Wheeler book was investigated by the Senate: http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/common/contested_elections/pdf/127_Jan_31_1947_O-Conor.pdf


Chris Williams 04.11.11 at 1:55 pm

I edited a book in 2004 entitled “Giving the Past a Future: Preserving the Heritage of the UK’s Criminal Justice System”. I checked at the time and couldn’t find any other uses of it in book titles. Tony Gilmour published “Sustaining Heritage: Giving the Past a Future” in 2007, which I have no complaint about, what with it being a subtitle.

A bit of sneaky googling shows that the phrase has since appeared on a conference, a number of newspaper and magazine articles, and best of all a song by Megan D. Lake about the Mormons, which you can download as an mp3 or a ringtone. See:


Billikin 04.11.11 at 2:56 pm

Not an actual title, but a suggested renaming:

“A Truck Runs Through It”


JP Stormcrow 04.11.11 at 6:28 pm




Miracle Max 04.11.11 at 6:31 pm


js. 04.11.11 at 6:33 pm

Not sure this counts, but I know people who’ve confused J.L. Austin’s Sense and Sensibilia with Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. People in question being undergrads in a philosophy class.


John Quiggin 04.11.11 at 7:03 pm

@max Snap. You have to scroll down a bit.


Jacob Christensen 04.11.11 at 8:04 pm

When it comes to studies of the development of the Danish welfare state, there is a curious lack of imagination. So we have Dansk Velfærdshistorie (Danish Welfare History), Det danske velfærdssamfunds historie (The History of the Danish Welfare Society) and Den danske velfærdsstats historie (The History of the Danish Welfare State).

Declaration of interest: I am a contributor to #1 and #3.


trane 04.11.11 at 8:26 pm

Off topic:
@9 Mike Otsuka

Ridiculous? No, that de Botton book was just fine by me, as was his Proust book.


JP Stormcrow 04.11.11 at 8:32 pm

If you extend it to subtitles, you have The Vocation of a Teacher: Rhetorical Occasions, 1967-1988, the subtitle (sans dates) being later used by this French dude.


lemmy caution 04.12.11 at 12:58 am

There are at least two books called “empire of dirt”:


the one on indie music is good.


skippy 04.12.11 at 4:27 am

i guess robert benchley’s 20,000 leagues under the sea, or david copperfield doesn’t count.


Manta1976 04.12.11 at 1:42 pm

Dostoevski’s “Crime and Punishment” and Cesare Beccaria’s “On crimes and punishments” (I have read that the similarity of titles was done on purpose by Dostoevski, since he was dealign with the same themes as Beccaria).
(The similarity is lost in Italian, where Dostoevski’s is translated as “Delitto e castigo”).


Stephen Frug 04.13.11 at 5:39 pm

Upton Sinclair (1940), Joan Vinge (1984) and T. Coraghessan Boyle (1987) all wrote novels called World’s End, which is also the title of one of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman collections (1994).

On a very different level, the late poet & SF writer Thomas M. Disch called his first book of poetry The Right Way to Figure Plumbing because there was a book by that title from the 19th century by a man called Thomas M. Disch, and he thought it was a funny joke to play on librarians & bibliographers.


Salient 04.13.11 at 6:53 pm

Still looking forward (hypothetically) to the Quiggin-with-illustrations-by-Holbo crossover hit Zombie Econ Comics.


sg 04.13.11 at 10:58 pm

I think ghoul doppelgangers are more dangerous. They have paralysis.

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