Once someone has mastered this Byzantine skill set, she can move freely among different think tanks with different political views. In spite of the very real divisiveness brought about by their policy recommendations, think-tank employees often collaborate with colleagues across the aisle. Further setting them apart from their academic counterparts is Medvetz’s discovery that agents typically choose new jobs on the basis of geography, not ideology.

Think tanks, Medvetz shows, are more similar than they are different. Good news for K Street happy hour; bad news for partisans, university professors, and probably the rest of us. 

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Eugenia Williamson is a freelance writer, a columnist for The Boston Globe, and a contributing editor at The Baffler