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The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers Paperback – Aug 10 1999


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 7 edition (Aug. 10 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 068486214X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684862149
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 14.2 x 2.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 299 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents


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This is a book about a handful of men with a curious claim to fame. Read the first page
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By N. Tsafos on April 2 2004
Format: Paperback
Frederic Bastiat, a nineteenth century French economist, once wrote a open letter calling on parliament to intervene and prevent unfair competition from ruining the industries related to lighting; his argument was plain: "We are suffering from the intolerable competition of a foreign rival placed, it would seem, in a condition so far superior to our own for the production of light, that he absolutely mandates our national market with it at a price fabulously reduced ... This rival ... is no other than the sun."
Sarcasm, Robert Heilbroner tells us, is just one of many ways in which economists have tried to express their ideas and make them intelligible to a skeptical public. If Bastiat comes off as an eccentric, that is because he was. But wait till you meet others such as absent-minded Adam Smith or aspiring revolutionary Karl Marx. Only then will the world of economics become alive.
In this succinct volume, Mr. Heilbroner aims to make economics appealing to non-economists. There are no graphs, few numbers, and all ideas are conveyed in a superb way, paving the way for future inquiries (a rich bibliographical survey serves the same purpose). The book will also excite those with an economics background, as it offers anecdotes into people whom students usually know only academically. Still, the greatest contribution will be the introduction of the economics world to those who seem aloof to it, either because they find it boring or difficult. After reading this book, they should change their minds.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ian Robertson TOP 100 REVIEWER on April 30 2012
Format: Paperback
There's a good reason this is the second best selling economics book of all time (the first is Paul Samuelson's Economics textbook, which was prescribed by professors for introductory economics classes for decades): its subject matter - the great economic thinkers, or 'worldly philosophers - is both timeless and assembled with great care; and the erudition and style with which Heilbroner writes is unparalleled. With seven editions over more than 60 years (Heilbroner died in 2005), this landmark book should continue to serve as an introduction and reference for years to come.

The text flows chronologically, with ample references forward and back in time as necessary to provide context, starting with the smaller building blocks of economic thought prior to Adam Smith and progressing with separate chapters for Smith, Malthus and Ricardo, Marx, Veblen, Keynes and Schumpeter. There are two additional chapters - one for the Utopian Socialists of the early 1800s, including John Stuart Mill, and a second for the Victorian era, including Bastiat, Henry George, and John Hobson. The seventh edition also includes a new concluding chapter lamenting 'The End of Worldly Philosophy', or more specifically the evolution of economics as a science disaggregated from its necessary social causes and effects.

It's not difficult to find information on any of the people noted above, or to access their major works. What sets this book apart is the seamless weaving of the subjects' accomplishments into a compelling narrative along with a context and frame of reference for assessing their work.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By "blackarrow017" on June 11 2004
Format: Paperback
I came to this book a novice in economic history. The Worldly Philosophers opened my eyes and gave in-depth detail of some of the major thinkers and key players in economics: such as Karl Marx, John Hobson, Marshall, Keynes, the Utopian socialists, Adam Smith, etc.
This is a wonderful book for an introduction to economics. I've generated many ideas and economic theories as a result of reading this book--the author constantly points out their ideas, the flaws, the strengths, the fallacies.
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Format: Paperback
This is the latest version by a historian of economics, Heilbroner. In this book, taking the paradigm of Polanyi, so many classical economists are introduced as �gworldly philosophers�h like Adam Smith, Malthus, Ricardo, Owen, San Simon, Fourier, Mill, Marx, Edgeworth, Frederic Bastiat, Henry George, Hobson, Marshall, Veblen, Keyens, and Schumpeter.
The author shows us the way how we can understand some difficulties of those philosophers, explaining their social background, habitus, characters, whole perspective which the author calls �gvision�h, achievements and difficulties from current issue. And because they have affected each other as a matter of fact, some letters which were inserted in this book is effective to touch their personalities. This book can be read as a Euro-American history through those philosophers.
Although there are a few inadequate expressions on anthropological facts and might be philosophy, this book must be fantastic for inviting readers to economics. However, although anthropology or sociology has same challenge, what we want to know at the end must be economy itself rather than thoughts of worldly philosophers. I�fm just a bit afraid this book might produce �gstudiers who want to become economists�h rather than �h studiers who want to know economy�h, unless readers take it into account.
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