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Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies [Hardcover]

E. K. Hunt
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Dec 1 2002 0765606089 978-0765606082 8th Revised edition
"Property and Prophets" is a concise history of the rise and subsequent triumph of capitalism. Focused primarily on England until 1800 and the United States since 1800, the book's economic history is interspersed with the history of ideas that evolved along with the capitalist system.

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3.0 out of 5 stars Get his other book "History of Economic Thought" March 19 2004
Format:Paperback
I don't recommend this book because his other book, History of Economic Thought, is much more accessible.
The reason is that Property and Prophets is too short for what it wants to cover. I think that the strength of his other book is that, while it is much longer and more expensive, it explains everything, including his approach to understanding ideas historically.
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Critical Perspective On Capitalism: Feb. 10 2002
By Mark Price - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Hunt's penetrating vision delivers both the history and the ideas, which have shaped our world. This book is of interest to those well read in economic theory as well as those seeking an introduction to how both its defenders and critics have viewed capitalism. Hunt explains the ideas of great economists like Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Marx, Veblen and Keynes while insightfully describing the birth and continued evolution of capitalism. While Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers elevates the economist as the center of attention Hunt's Property and Prophets returns the emphasis to the arguments for and against capitalism.
At the dawn of the 21st century we find ourselves in the midst of a new wave of globalization that has resurrected centuries old debates over the efficacy of markets; those debates are described in this book. Those struggling to put people over profits should reconnect with the centuries of ideological struggle that preceded them and make Hunt's critical perspective required reading.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Former Student of Dr. Hunt July 7 2007
By Kirk H.C. Ruse - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Property and Prophets is an excellent exposition of alternative views on capitalism. I enjoyed reading the book for three main reasons:
1) It does a good job explaining the advent of capitalism and how this system differs form it predecessors.
2) It focuses on economics more than economists (as opposed to the Worldly Philosophers).
3) It gives you view of past and modern economic theory and practice that you are unlikely to encounter in mainstream economic books, popular press articles, or lectures.
All that being said the text is somewhat short for all the topics it attempts to touch on; however, no student has ever complained about a required text being a little too short. Also, the book is not a stand-alone introduction to economics. What I mean is the author assumes that readers are at least somewhat familiar with modern neoclassical and Keynesian economics (insert your prefix of choice for the latter). Overall, it does do the intended job of introducing the reader to historical and contemporary radical critiques of capitalism. Economists often forget that our discipline, and capitalism in general, has a difficult time answering some pretty basic ethical, anthropological, and metaphysical questions (let alone the hard ones). So reads this book and ponder some of these issues, you might find answers to them and you might not, but remembers as Voltaire said, "Burning is not answering".
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Conservatives hate this book for a reason Feb. 18 2012
By Ericevils - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I absolutely love this book. It's a long lost classic as far as I'm concerned. It's value lays in the fact that it gives a concise history of economic systems that has long been forgotten by most people. It discusses the rise of mercantilism, early capitalism and of course it has radical critiques of modern capitalism, at least around the 80s. It's not the last pages that will blow your mind hole but the overall timeline. You can see that capitalism, broadly defined, is the best system to date.

The book doesn't say "life was great until capitalism occurred then it was awful." It describes the improvements, it just doesn't think that it's the "End of History" economically speaking. It gives a fair overview of communism and socialism, it doesn't say that Russia is the best country because they've adopted a corrupted, bastard version of communism though.

Why do conservatives hate this book? It's because it's not a capitalist love fest that they want everybody to buy into. It gives readers the pros and cons of the system and as I stated even some radical critiques. For instance, it gives the theory that without the military industrial complex then we would simply not have enough jobs for everybody. Is that so radical? I don't think so at all, Western Europe doesn't have a huge military industrial complex but unemployment is high (not just now, but it has been). Another radical idea is that the proponents of totally free markets don't always have empirical evidence to support it. They're philosophizing about it, like Austrian/Ron Paul types who don't ever do any studies.

Another reason why they hate the book is that knowing what occurred during industrialization compared to the US right now is mind boggling. The market was freer but people made less and more people were poor than today but less people were serfs or slaves as it was before. Somebody who grew up in the late 1700s and 1800s would have thought capitalism was the only way to go since no other countries or systems had ever had better economic systems. Today, we do know that there are better ways to manage an economy and very few people want a totally unregulated economy.

Read the book, it's worth your time. It's easy to read, it informs you about what the world used to be like economically speaking and it offers you critiques that the corporately owned media will never talk about. You'll enjoy this book if you like economics and politics.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hunt is accessible for non-economists to see and understand their world from the perspective of how people make their living. March 13 2014
By martin.morand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The way(s) in which the "prophets" have examined the uses and abuses of property ownership to impact societal control are laid bare beautifully.
6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Critique is a Good Thing Dec 3 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book provides an alternative view of the nature of capitalism. Economics is the lap dog of capitalist ideology. This work provides both an alternative approach as well as historical truths and information that help the reader better understand both economics and capitalism.
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