Unlike other histories of economics, Mark Skousen's book provides a running plot with a singular heroic figure, Adam Smith, at the center of the discipline. Skousen unites the great thinkers by ranking them for or against Adam Smith and his "system of natural liberty". He shows how Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblen, John Maynard Keynes, and even laissez-faire disciples Robert Malthus and David Ricardo detracted from Adam Smith's classical model of democratic capitalism during periods of economic failure and upheaval, while Alfred Marshall, Irving Fisher, Ludwig von Mises, and Milton Friedman, among others, remodeled and improved upon Smithian economics as the world economy recovered and prospered.
Highlights include exciting new revelations about the lives of the great economists, provocative sidelights, humorous anecdotes, and even musical selections reflecting the spirit of each major economist.
©2001 Mark Skousen; (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks
I like to read things that provide a different perspective on seemingly ordinary topics. I want to learn something from every book I read.
One of my two favorite audio books. It is filled with interesting facts presented in a logical sequence. The narrator is very easy to listen to. The book puts major economic thoughts into perspective with each other, primarily with respect to Adam Smith and free market theory. A few odd facts about economists are sprinkled in here & there.
I listen to this book quite often -- I just start at a random point & go from there.
Mark Skousen does an excellent job of bringing the history of economics to life. He weaves the lives of these great thinkers together in such an entertaining way that you don't even realize that you are listening to economics. He helps you to understand the theorists by sharing with you their personal histories. This was a great listen. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Although this book gives a very detailed potrait of the history of economics and the story of major economists, I find the author's idiosyncratic style a bit disorienting. Skousen maintains a very free-market perspective in his narrative, judging economists by their adherence to Smith's free market principles. The book also repeats facts and other information, leading me to believe that the book is at least partly a compliation of Skousen's previously written materials. I am not sure why we need to know that David Ricardo's teeth fell out while Skousen spends less time on the development of Ricardo's theories. The suggested musical selections are a bit strange, but they don't detract from the book.
Overall, I would suggest that you read the boook if you are interesteed in the story of economics, but be aware of Skousen's biases. Hopefully, Audible will release Heilbroner's The Wordly Philosophers to offer the other side's perspective.
I am amazed that Mark has taken an exhaustive look at the history and characters that have produced the world that we live in today. I do not believe that I would have had the time and focus to read this work with my eyes. I am glad that I was able to listen to it. I have a greater understanding of the ideas and personal beliefs that each of the recent economists have shared with the public. For me, having a foundation of understanding of the history of modern economics is indispensable. Everyone that has any inclination to learn about economics should have this in their library.
Interesting and detailed, but has a very very strong bias against any non ultra-free market findings.
One warning is that the author is somewhat homophobic and pro-theism(most obvious in talking about the early 1900's period and for Keynes). This seeps into some of his analysis and colors his opinions on the character of economists he talks about. Going outside of detailing the figures, he goes into simple vitriol and disdain for the figures he obviously has issues with.
As long as you know that this is a specifically pro-free market analysis, the book is very interesting. But don't let the authors irrational points effect you, and keep an eye on all his analysis. This is only one side of the argument, but he does do a somewhat complete job of explaining that side. Buy this and a book that matches it but from a less supply/free market approach and you'll get a nicely balanced view.
Mark's book is good for the reasons mentioned by other reviewers, but it's especially good, because you'll never get this material covered in college. Skousen is a follower of the Austrian school of economics, which is only taught at only several colleges around the country, such as George Mason.
Holly said that this is "neocon" economics, which would be as absurd as calling John Adams a Jeffersonian. Well known "neocons" support at least some of Keynes ideas, such as using fiscal policy to spur the economy during recessions. Austrians universally support a gold standard and favor almost no government endeavors (some don't support it for any).
Family on the move.
This book was wonderfully written, focusing on the odd people who made the history. I didn't realize how really different these economists really were until reading this. The dismal science has never been so fascinating.
There are so few authors who really understand the absolutely vital and positive impact that the Austrian, Chicago and Virginia schools have had on economic science. It is written so very well that it is facinating to listen to. This is a great place to hear the real scoop on Marx. Not a bad critique of Mises either. Bravo Dr. Skousen, you are my hero! Now I will have to go out and buy the book.
This book is about more than money. Mr. Skousen makes sense of how the world works and brings it to you in an entertaining way that makes you not want to put the book down.
I see that he has written quite a few other books and that makes me wonder what else I'm missing.
I wish more of his books were available on Audible.
Skousen's book does a nice job of summarizing the development of modern economics since Adam Smith. But the weakness of the book is his religious fervor for the free market. He makes his bias clear at the start: Adam Smith is at the top of the pyramid, Marx at the bottom. Government intervention in BAD, free enterprise is GOOD. There is almost no attention to distributional issues or market failure, with a consistent belief that the free market will raise all boats. Hopefully, listeners will not be convinced by his repeated attacks on Nobel Laureates and other esteemed economists. He derides economists who, with scholarly hesitation, confess uncertainty about important macroeconomic questions. He tries to convince us that the "truth" of economics was discovered by Adam Smith, and that any economist who deviated from that free-market path is not only wrong, but has damaged society immeasurably. Don't be convinced. You can learn from Skousen, but avoid indoctrination!
"thorough and interesting but not balanced"
I enjoyed listening and learned a lot but this book is written from a defensive American free market standpoint. be prepared to challenge.
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