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23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism Audiobook

23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists-the apostles of the freemarket-have spun since the Age of Reagan.
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Publisher's Summary

Thing 1: There is no such thing as the free market.
Thing 4: The washing machine has changed the world more than the Internet.
Thing 5: Assume the worst about people, and you get the worst.
Thing 13: Making rich people richer doesn't make the rest of us richer.

If you've wondered how we did not see the economic collapse coming, Ha-Joon Chang knows the answer: We didn't ask what they didn't tell us about capitalism. This is a lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists - the apostles of the freemarket - have spun since the Age of Reagan.

Chang, the author of the international best seller Bad Samaritans, is one of the world's most respected economists, a voice of sanity - and wit - in the tradition of John Kenneth Galbraith and Joseph Stiglitz.

23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism equips listeners with an understanding of how global capitalism works - and doesn't. In his final chapter, "How to Rebuild the World", Chang offers a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.

Ha-Joon Chang teaches in the Faculty of Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include the best-selling Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism. His Kicking Away the Ladder received the 2003 Myrdal Prize, and, in 2005, Chang was awarded the Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought.

©2011 Ha-Joon Chang (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Shaking Economics 101 assumptions to the core … Eminently accessible, with a clearly liberal (or at least anticonservative) bent, but with surprises along the way—for one, the thought that markets need to become less rather than more efficient." (Kirkus Reviews)

"An advocate of big, active government and capitalism as distinct from a free market, Chang presents an enlightening précis of modern economic thought - and all the places it's gone wrong, urging us to act in order to completely rebuild the world economy: 'This will make some readers uncomfortable... it is time to get uncomfortable.'" (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    Sean MANCHESTER, MA, United States 11-10-11
    Sean MANCHESTER, MA, United States 11-10-11 Member Since 2015
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    "A shallow and destructive book"


    This book contains some interesting anecdotes, if you can keep your blood pressure down. I only made it half way through. The only way in which I could recommend this work is as an example of everything that's wrong with political and economic discourse. It's not actually a book on economics by any stretch of the imagination. It is an overtly political book, which sets up a straw man in the form of "free market economists" and proceeds, impotently, to attempt to knock it down. Here is a summary of my reasons for hating it:

    - It argues against people, not ideas. For example, it argues that opposing protectionism is an invalid opinion because several illustrious American politicians were in favor of it. It then counters the perceived "counter-argument" that Jefferson was for free trade by stating that he was also against patents, which makes him inconsistent with other free market economists. No discussion of the actual merits of free trade seems to be present here.

    - It throws around lots of statistics about prices, wage rates, per capita income, and so on very carelessly. No specification is ever even given as to whether the figures are real or nominal ones.

    - The book assumes a great deal about the reader. For example, it seems to pander to an audience that desires secure jobs with as little variation in work responsibilities as possible. The book repeatedly characterizes changing jobs often, working part time, or working harder as bad, with no explanation as to why it makes these assumptions.

    - Many arguments are not arguments at all, and are easily debunked via reductio ad absurdum. Of course the author seems to be attempting to weasel out of this trap by not presenting any concrete opinions of his own, only attacking others', but that doesn't really improve anything for me. For example, he claims outright that capital flow across borders causes instability and is bad for growth. If this is true, then where is the limit? Should each town have capital flow restrictions to neighboring towns? Why are national boundaries the right lines of delineation?

    - Many arguments seem circular. For instance, although lip service is payed to certain historical "collective actions" causing certain countries to become rich, this seems to become a circular argument when it is claimed that the rich only do these "collective actions" because of their existing circumstances. Or maybe the collective actions were something else, and the author was only referring to the productivity of the rich. I have no idea, and the author does nothing to help elucidate his points.

    - The author is a big fan of China as an example of a heavily controlled economy experiencing great growth. He never addresses the obvious issues that: 1. Much of this growth is in "special economic zones" with more freedom than the rest of the country 2. Much of it is via foreign direct investment 3. The conventional wisdom is that China began to grow after liberalization under Deng Xiaoping.

    - What finally stopped me was the author's quite un-nuanced use of the US as an example of the success of protectionism, while ignoring that the US itself was the largest economic union in history. Given its continual wars with European powers, the only other major economic powers of the time, the US had many security and other non-economic reasons for protectionism. This is ignored.

    192 of 267 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Bethesda, MD, United States 05-29-12
    Matthew Bethesda, MD, United States 05-29-12
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    "I found it too hard to follow as a listen."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    We all know that not all narrators are created equal and one listener's favorite is another listener's turn-off. For me Joe Barrett is in the latter category...but you may love to listen to his voice - I do not.


    What was most disappointing about Ha-Joon Chang’s story?

    I thought the structure of the story, didn't work for an audio book. Each "thing" is laid out as 1) What the thing is they don't tell you about capitalism 2) What "they" tell you 3) What "they" don't want you to know. This structure may work when you're reading the book, but for me, it just didn't work as a "listen"...I kept finding myself asking, wait, is THIS the "spin" part or the "truth" part. Maybe my level of concentration isn't up to the challenge of this book - but for me it just didn't work...I found it toomoved on to another book half way through.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance was fine I just didn't care for the sound of the narrator's voice.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Dissapointment...I was hoping it would be a more enjoyable listen.


    15 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 05-06-15
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 05-06-15 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "CRITICISM OF CAPITALISM"

    Criticism of democracy and capitalism is quite popular around the world. But, as Winston Churchill quotes, in a speech to the House of Commons in 1947, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.” Professor Ha-Joon Chang, the author of “23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism” suggests the same sentiment about capitalism. Capitalism is the worst form of economic development, except for all the others.

    However, Chang is not exactly saying capitalism is better than other economic systems. Chang believes capitalism is falsely defined or understood. Capitalism is a chimera, “a thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory…” A standard definition of capitalism is—an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit. Synonyms are free enterprise, private enterprise, or free market economy.

    Chang suggests a misunderstanding of what makes capitalism work is causing 1) inequality of opportunity, 2) inequality of income, 3) failure to provide a safety net that capitalizes on human potential, 4) loss opportunity for synergistic government and private sector research and development, and 5) a false science of economics that idealistically represents capitalist complexity. Chang suggests misunderstanding capitalism creates a false vision, like that in the movie “Matrix”, with human presumption of freedom, when there is none. It is not that there is no freedom in capitalism but it is regulated and significantly defined by government policy.

    In the end, Chang is an optimist. He believes the general public will demand change. Chang reinforces belief in capitalism as the best economic system in the world. With better understanding of how capitalism really works, Chang infers civilization will continue to improve.

    9 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Toombs Houston 09-17-11
    Toombs Houston 09-17-11 Listener Since 2010
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    "Great, lucid overview of economics"

    First off, this book is not anti-capitalism or a book promoting socialism or some other form of economic system. What this book is, first and foremost, is an indictment of free market economics. Chang is a fan of capitalism (as all people who live in reality should be, as no other form of economic system has come close to realizing the achievements that capitalism and the profit-seeking motive have made possible). However, he is not a fan of the particular variety of capitalism that goes under the name of free market or laissez-faire economics, which lately has mastered a stunning intellectual dominance among the elite policy makers of the world.

    Throughout this book, Chang uses historical examples to counter and disprove common claims by free market economists. For example, free market economists say that protectionism is bad, but Chang points out that there are many examples of countries who used protectionist tariffs to develop their economy when it was in its infancy. The United States is his primary example, which Chang says was one of the most intensely protectionist countries for decades after it was first formed into a Republic. Alexander Hamilton, who formulated most of the economic policy of the fledgling country in the 1790s, actually created an elaborate system of tariffs, duties and excise taxes, which he thought were essential to protect industry at home from potentially stronger business abroad.

    The book is divided into 23 "things" which are usually rebuttals to bits of economic ill-wisdom that have become entrenched in mainstream discourse due to the dominance of free market ideology over the past 30 years. Chang writes in a very easy going, not too-technical style, so even if you don't know much about economics you'll find this book very interesting as the issues he discusses effect us all. This book provides a lot of answers to the question of how can economic policy be changed so that it benefits a greater number of people

    42 of 79 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marcus White Earth 05-29-16
    Marcus White Earth 05-29-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Too much like a textbook"

    This book was a little bit too technical for me. Didn't tell enough of a story and it didn't engage me that much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Deaton 05-03-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Interesting but complicated"

    Pretty interesting but some parts were a little complicated to someone like me. I understand some basic economics but some of the things he discusses are fairly technical and in depth. Still very interesting nonetheless

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred 02-15-16
    Fred 02-15-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Extremely liberal viewpoint"

    Difficult to read because of the authors level of distain for the method of capitalism used in the US.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer the Hague 02-03-16
    Amazon Customer the Hague 02-03-16 Member Since 2015
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    "mindful economics.."

    this book is a must read for future policy makers, well argumented and carrying a powerful message

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 12-27-15
    Anja Schmidt Denmark 12-27-15 Member Since 2006

    k11923

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    "Balanced reveiw"
    What made the experience of listening to 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism the most enjoyable?

    I particularly liked the points about education, immigration and service economy because he explains so well why some of these things that most are quite inclined to believe in might not be such good ideas after all.


    Any additional comments?

    It promotes some reflection about asumptions that we often consider to be self-evident.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teno Boone 10-26-15
    Teno Boone 10-26-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Definitely contrarian but Many Arguments are thin."

    Overall I thing Chang was successful in offering up an alternative viewpoint to the free-market capitalism rhetoric that is prominent in certain circles. However I find some of the arguments presented very thin and I do believe that Chang picks and chooses historical perspective when it suits his argument. I also believe that he does over-simplify many arguments for the his opposition. With that said, in other respects he does present data and case studies that suggest that the "free-market" policies should be more scrutinized and not taken as common sense.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Derek Carrillo
    11/28/12
    Overall
    "Very short review."

    Loved this book, well thought out and fascinating insight in to capitalism. I hold a lot of the same view as the author but regardless I think more people should know of the underlying problems with our current system.



    After listening to the book I can no longer hear a news report when the word "deregulation" is mentioned without me thinking back to this book, and thinking who it is really benefiting?

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Nada
    Bratislava, Slovakia
    5/23/11
    Overall
    "A MUST-READ!"

    Wow, if only everybody would read this book and start making changes to this increasingly misfunctioning global economy! Ha-Joon Chang named everything that I feel is wrong with today's world and his book has armed me with strong arguments for future debates with free-market zealots.

    Politics aside, this is a must-read for anyone even mildly interested in current affairs, definitely not just for readers interested in economics! It's wonderfuly accessible, engaging and eye-opening book that will make you question everything you have heard about economy in recent years.

    The reader is great and the audiobook is a pure joy to listen to. I like this book so much that I will buy a paper copy for future reference. Plus, I would love to listen to his previous book Bad Samaritans.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Hamish Drummond
    4/3/15
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    "Braw"

    While I am of a socialist inclination, and the author is very much not, his exposition of the failures of the neoliberalism economic school is a compelling and well set out introduction to the notion that there very much are alternatives to the way in which our economies have been run for the last three and a half decades.

    In layman's terms throughout, it is suitable for those who would like to know more, and the reading is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Upal
    BELFAST, United Kingdom
    2/19/16
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    "Good insight"

    Very insightful but the author left out the crucial economic factor - impact of war

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sian
    1/1/16
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    "Clear, incisive, accessible; essential reading"
    Would you listen to 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism again? Why?

    Yes. I already have, three times! Ha-Joon Chang has made a (to me) complex and . mysterious subject accessible, and enabled me better to understand how western economies function and the ways in which western neo-liberal capitalism impacts on other countries and peoples. I think this book should be a core title on the school curriculum.


    What about Joe Barrett’s performance did you like?

    His performance is far and away the best I've encountered in audio-books - his inflection and emphasis demonstrate an understanding of the subject matter and the intentions of the author, and his style is easy, relaxed, very listenable.


    Any additional comments?

    Everyone; read it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • pheeqzie
    Inverkeithing, United Kingdom
    11/8/15
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    Performance
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    "Brilliantly presented"

    Delivered in a way that any listener regardless of educational level can comprehend. You don't have to agree with all the views expressed but can't help but appreciate the differing views offered by the author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • MR
    4/1/15
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    "Simple and insightful"

    On the whole, a great book if you would like to learn about the mechanisms of modern capitalism. The author generally keeps it simple and explains any jargon that is necessary. I did get a little bored occasionally when numerous facts and figures are mentioned but this is obviously important with a book about economics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Craig
    Worsley, United Kingdom
    2/18/14
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    "A very important book!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism to be better than the print version?

    I think this should be mandatory in colleges across the globe. To say its an eye opener would be understatement of the highest order. At once anger inducing and jaw dropping, the book reveals some real truths about our supposed "experts" who sit on high. Excellent book!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roderick
    Harrogate, United Kingdom
    12/10/13
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    "Honestly political expose - restores common sense"
    If you could sum up 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism in three words, what would they be?

    The book explains the difference between politics and structure in national economic choices, their contemporary effects, and where the political levers (and true facts) actually are.


    What other book might you compare 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism to, and why?

    I don't read books like this normally, so no comparison yet.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Comfort with the actual honesty about the political nature of the choices and recommendations. Happy to hear well articulated versions of some of the notions I had already formulated. Trouble at the - not entirely new - insights to the not-yet-being-fixed western education systems.


    Any additional comments?

    I'll be listening to this a few times - making it very good value too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fredrik
    Eskilstuna, Sweden
    11/14/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Extremely brilliant and insightful!"
    Where does 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best - if not THE best -book about the state of the world today.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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