The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers Paperback – Aug 10 1999
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“A brilliant achievement.”
—John Kenneth Galbraith
“If ever a book answered a crying need, this one does. Here is all the economic lore most general readers conceivably could want to know, served up with a flourish by a man who writes with immense vigor and skill, who has a rare gift for simplifying complexities.”
—The New York Times
“Robert Heilbroner's The Worldly Philosophers is a living classic, both because he makes us see that the ideas of the great economists remain fresh and important for our times and because his own brilliant writing forces us to reach out into the future.”
“The Worldly Philosophers, quite simply put, is a classic....None of us can know where we are coming from unless we know the sources of the great ideas that permeate our thinking. The Worldly Philosophers gives us a clear understanding of the economic ideas that influence us whether or not we have read the great economic thinkers.”
“Sinclair Lewis's Arrowsmith inspired several readers to become Nobel laureates in biology. Robert Heilbroner's new edition of The Worldly Philosophers will inspire a new generation of economists.”
About the Author
Robert L Heilbroner is the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics, Emeritus at the New School For Social Research, New York. He is author of more than 20 books, and has contributed to the New Yorker. He lives in New York City. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
The major strength is that the book is an engaging read, especially considering its subject matter. In particular, Heilbroner paints a compelling picture of the lives of John Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx.
His chapter on Marx may be the book's highlight, since an understanding of Marx's embittered worldview may provide a clue to the oppressive atmosphere engendered by Marxism, both within societies that subscribed to Marxist doctrine and within the movement itself. Especially illuminating is French Socialist Pierre Proudhon's response to Marx's offer to join forces: "Let us together seek, if you wish, the laws of society, the manner in which these laws are reached, the process by which we shall succeed in discovering them; but, for God's sake, after having demolished all the a priori dogmatisms, do not let us in our turn dream of indoctrinating the people. . . . I applaud with all my heart your thought of inviting all shades of opinion; let us carry on a good and loyal polemic, let us give the world the example of an informed and farsighted tolerance, but let us not--simply because we are at the head of a movement--make ourselves into the leaders of a new intolerance, let us not pose as the apostles of a new religion, even if it be the religion of logic, the religion of reason. Let us gather together and encourage all dissent, let us outlaw all exclusiveness, all mysticism, let us never regard a question as exhausted, and when we have used one last argument, let us if necessary begin again--with eloquence and irony.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This book will just serve as an introduction to a number of economic thinkers. The reader then gets a bit of a feel for what type of economics area, he would find interesting. Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2008 by Patrick Sullivan
One reader of this book has noted that this book is a "mixed bag". I think he/she is exactly right.
Obviously, this author has done something pretty remarkable, and has... Read more
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... Read morePublished on June 11 2004
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... Read morePublished on May 4 2004 by Shuji Iijima
This book reminds me of Will Durant's marvelous The Story of Philosophy, with which it shares many positive qualities. Read morePublished on April 5 2004 by M. Dog
This lucid and lively book tells the history of economic thought through the lives and times of great economists such as Smith, Marx, and Keynes. Read morePublished on Dec 21 2003
An excellent overview but far too brief. I would have paid more for a book with twice the pages if more detail of each economist's theories had been included. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2003 by W.R.Schillings
In this justly famous volume, first written more than fifty years ago and now in its seventh edition, Robert Heilbroner brings to life the great practitioners of the dismal... Read morePublished on Dec 12 2003 by Jeffery Steele
This is one of those delights that come very rarely in economics. The author wrote for the New Yorker and anyone familiar with the old rambling New Yorker articles that took days... Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by economist
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