Property and Prophets: The Evolution of Economic Institutions and Ideologies Hardcover – Nov 20 2002
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About the Author
University of Utah
Top Customer Reviews
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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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".
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.
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