This would have been much better if it had been a more balanced book. It is definitely in the free market + religion + tea party ballpark. If that's your inclination then you'll like it. But if you want an objective and balanced view of economics ... definitely pick another book than this.
Okay so it's bound to be dated, right? My problem is with its ideological stance. I was really excited to get 9 hours of info about these economists. I was not prepared for attacks on Marx's character, using such words as "demonic" and "depraved" to describe him. In addition the author goes to pains to find evidence that Smith believed in God, of which there is little to none. These character notes are absolutely silly in a book of this nature, and made me suspect the quality of all of the information. Is he so determined in his opinions that he is unable to give a full account of which practices work and what don't? I am not at all confident.
And of course aside from that, his triumphalist last chapter, in which he maintains (spoiler alert!) that Adam Smith has been proven undeniably right, is entirely thrown in to question these days.
I have a lot of experience in social theory, and can say I was impressed with the author's knowledge. Far more detailed that your Great Courses material.
The book is NOT limited to these three writers but instead spans from early French economists all the way through Milton Friedman.
The only complaint I have is with their treatment of Karl -- going so far as to use elements in his life to discredit him, including the suggestion he endorsed "dark" views on religion.
The author unabashedly strives to demonstrate the enduring superiority of laissez faire economics. This is his prerogative, but it leaves the listener feeling that something is missing (for instance, consider the increasing criticism of globalization policies - claiming to promote free-trade - from different corners of the world). However, good narration, and an engaging account of the big three in Economics.
As the book tried to cover the three economists, we were taken from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nation (published in 1776) to the work of John Maynard Keynes in the early part of the twentieth century. Yet, the book seems to pretend that the world as described by Charles Dickens did not exist.
None of the problems of Dickens, the issues of company towns, of the struggles of group like the Appalachian coal miners, or even the current labor issues with Walmart were even hinted at in the book. It is as if these very real world problems were not worth addressing, because they do not fit in the ideological box of the laissez faire capitalist.
The problem was my memory. I bought the same book years ago when it was first published. In my mind, it was a Okay book that presented three heavy weight economists. That's the reason I purchased the Audible version so that I would listen the story again while I am hiking. LOL! I forgot that Mr. Skousen was disciple of Milton Friedman who treated Karl Marx as sub-text.Money wasted !
For someone with almost no background in economics, I found this a fairly easy listen. However, like other reviewers, the author seemed to me a fanatic ideologue and all of his conclusions become suspect because of the one-sided presentation. In addition, the words wasted on deriding Marx and Keynes and pedestalizing Smith would have been put to better use giving us more depth about their work and the historical context they were working in.
The book also suffered from the flaw of many historians: seeing the past as a story that is meant to lead us to today. While in the mid-2000s, free market ideology seemed to be getting the upper hand, the author shows no appreciation for the possibility that the many ups and downs in economic thinking might well continue and that his current perspective would soon seem dated.
This is a good introduction to the basic catechisms of market fundamentalism. It takes its small, dull place in the long line of literature devoted to telling us why it is actually good for everyone that the rich get richer. Adam Smith shows that markets grow wealth, almost by magic, a bigger pie for everyone, if only governments will get out of the way. Malthus, Ricardo, and Marx go badly wrong, we are assured, by asserting that value is somehow related to labor and that there might be conflicts in distribution. It is a little hard in the current economic climate to read the old free market lullabies that put Greenspan and Bush's SEC to sleep while bankers looted the treasury and set up their own private tax farming system, possibly wrecking the nation. In typical fashion, the book shows "scientific" demonstrations of market-created prosperity by carefully selected examples and vast historical exclusions. With scientists like these, who needs surrealists? One shibboleth that I get especially tired of hearing is the fact that reproduction rates decline in richer nations, thereby disproving Malthus. But a "nation" is not an "economy," where labor supplies and markets must continue to expand over the borders if the nation is to get "richer." Why exactly markets won't work if limited by national boundaries, but will somehow work within planetary boundaries is something never explained. It just might have something to do with currency manipulations and labor markets divided up into different legal systems. It is now 2009. It is time we had some alternatives to the utopian ideologies of the Austrian and Chicago School cheerleaders who have just driven us off the cliff. Wish Audible would widen the economics selections.
While unconditional love for markets is not necessary but nonetheless tolerable in surveys such as these, what was most shocking about Skousen were his inferences that Keynes' sexual orientation acts as a kind of evidence which discredits/diminishes his contribution to society and/or its relevance to today's uncertain economic environment. In short, small on substance big on machismo. Had I known Skousen was a buddy of Glenn Beck I would not have purchased this book.
Amazon charged my credit card and advised the title is available in My Library. When I went to My Library there was a message that said really the title is actually not available (even though they charged my credit card). The explanation in My Library is that Amazon is constantly growing its Whispersync for Voice Library... what does that even mean... ?