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The Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes | [Mark Skousen]

The Big Three in Economics: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes

The Big Three in Economics reveals the battle of ideas among the three most influential economists in world history: Adam Smith, representing laissez faire; Karl Marx, reflecting the radical socialist model; and John Maynard Keynes, symbolizing big government and the welfare state. History comes alive in this fascinating story of opposing views that continue to play a fundamental role in today's politics and economics.
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Publisher's Summary

The Big Three in Economics reveals the battle of ideas among the three most influential economists in world history: Adam Smith, representing laissez faire; Karl Marx, reflecting the radical socialist model; and John Maynard Keynes, symbolizing big government and the welfare state. History comes alive in this fascinating story of opposing views that continue to play a fundamental role in today's politics and economics.

In the 21st century, Adam Smith's "invisible hand" model has gained the upper hand, and capitalism has ultimately won the ideological battle over socialism and interventionism. But even in the era of globalization and privatization, Keynesian and Marxist ideas continue to play a significant role in economic policy in the public and private sectors.

©2007 Mark Skousen; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Thoughtful, acutely observed and profoundly moving....Barker mixes brilliantly observed contemporary realism and mystical overtones with dazzling skill. The book has the grip of a superior thriller while introducing, with no sense of strain, a sense of sorrowful mortality that lingers long after the last page." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (156 )
5 star
 (43)
4 star
 (60)
3 star
 (32)
2 star
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1 star
 (8)
Overall
3.8 (57 )
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
4.0 (57 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (2)
Performance
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  •  
    Jan Naestved, Denmark 05-25-07
    Jan Naestved, Denmark 05-25-07
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ratings
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    "Cut and paste"

    This book is ok. Unfortunately it is pretty much a "cut and paste" book assembeled from his earlier works. Instead of this one, buy "The history of modern economics" by the same author.

    22 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elton Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-10-07
    Elton Los Angeles, CA, United States 05-10-07 Member Since 2004

    BA English MA Political Science Political Independent Intellectually curious Critical reader

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Two for One"

    If you listened to Skousen's Making of Modern Economics then there really is no reason to pick up this volume. There are whole passages lifted from the prior text and this volume offeres really no new insight. This is more of an abridged version of his earlier volume. There is a lot of really good theory in this book and perhaps a little more focused that the purposely broader volume published earlier. I recommend it for someone who just wants the major thinkers instead of the progression of economic though.

    20 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Annandale, VA, United States 11-03-11
    William Annandale, VA, United States 11-03-11 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    4
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    "Quality economic intro, but not without bias"

    This was my first book about pure economics (vs. economic history) and I learned a tremendous amount. Skousen takes a circumspect approach to each school of thought, briefly addressing the biography of each character and then describing his ideas and their ramifications.

    It's worth pointing out that book is really about the big 3 schools of thought, rather than just the central personalities of the "Big Three". Skousen addresses the primary evangelists of each school who followed the three greats as well. Overall, his coverage of the topic felt thorough as he deftly switches between history, the nuts of bolts of each theory, and the effects of each.

    One word of caution, however. I expected this book to be more "Just the facts, Ma'am" as it discussed each school of thought, leaving true evaluation of the theories up to the reader. However Skousen's neo-classical bent comes through almost immediately. His opinion is well-reasoned and I found myself agreeing with it almost unanimously, but the title left me expecting something slightly different than what the book delivered, which made it a 4-star overall.

    The reading didn't detract from the text. Hey, we're talking economic theory, right? How much do you expect with regards to dramatic reading?

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roman Saint-Petersburg, Russia 12-21-11
    Roman Saint-Petersburg, Russia 12-21-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A great introduction into the history of economics"

    I fairly don't understand people who complain this book is biased. So what? The bias is easily distinguishable and it doesn't compromise the facts presented in the book. You don't need to convert yourself in to a free market economist to learn a bit of the history. At worst, you would know one biased point and it'd give you an even better perspective while reading a different point of view on the same economists or events.

    As the author noted, it is important to try to avoid discrediting all of the person's work just because his or her major theory was proven or considered false (he was talking about Marx, btw). Thus if you disagree with the author on some major grounds, I think it's always a good exercise to try to find things that you agree with and can make use of.

    Good book, great narration. Giving four stars because the story may have been a bit monotonous at times.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Chicago, IL, United States 07-24-12
    David Chicago, IL, United States 07-24-12
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    "The big 3"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Big Three in Economics to be better than the print version?

    This is a good book for starters. “The Big Three in Economics” is a book for those of you who would like to know more about economics and which types for you.
    The Book starts with Adam Smith who wrote the “The Wealth of Nations.” Adam Smith is considerted the founder of what is know today a Classical Economics. The author take you though the life of Adam Smith and some of his well know followers. All of which helped to expound on the ideas in “The Wealth of Nations.” To think that “The Wealth of Nations” was written in 1776 with many principles the the United States was founded on.
    Next Mark Skousen take us to Karl Marx and his writings that led to Communism. I have tired to read the “The Communist Manifesto” but some of the term are used, are not very American. So I had to stop and think who he is referring to, it just annoyed me. If you look into there lives you can understand why they had certain preferences. One of his other books “Das Kapital” was also refereed to.
    Then the final ideology in Economics Keynesian. American embraced Keynesian from the second Roosevelt to Carter. Where the economy started to falter with stagflation which then we turned to Classical Economics till the the Second Bush and back to Keynesian which we are following now.
    These are all Marco-Economics types each does have it merits. Some work better then other just depends on your point of view. Each has it own ideas of how to use and manipulate the money supply. (Increase in the money supply increases inflation) Check the inflation rate Click here.
    I do have my preference and that is Classical. Once governments gets to large it spends mine and yours money with a lot of waste.


    Which character – as performed by Jeff Riggenbach – was your favorite?

    N/A


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    N/A


    Any additional comments?

    Please check out my review at http://passiveinvestor.com/recommended-books/the-big-three/

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    billyjack NORWALK, CT, United States 03-05-11
    billyjack NORWALK, CT, United States 03-05-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting"

    i recommend listening to this book twice, there is a lot of information and background info about each gentlemen. i would never had classified Marx as an economist but the author presents points worth considering. a good study, you will need some time to digest their theories, at least i did.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    steve Clovis, CA, United States 11-11-08
    steve Clovis, CA, United States 11-11-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    "What you really need to know"

    That is what is in this book and I loved it. You can't go wrong if you buy this book.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Colorado Springs, CO, United States 04-24-08
    Robert Colorado Springs, CO, United States 04-24-08 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "A bit dry"

    The text was a bit dry. Good topical information.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 11-24-11
    P K Rotterdam, Netherlands 11-24-11
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
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    18
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    "Another Ayn Rand disciple?"

    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.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn Seattle, WA, USA 03-03-09
    Kathryn Seattle, WA, USA 03-03-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    12
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    "dated and ideologically driven"

    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.

    12 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 19 results PREVIOUS12NEXT
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  • David
    Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom
    4/30/08
    Overall
    "Acceptable but rather partisan coverage"

    This title includes short biographies of each of the three economists Smith, Marx and Keynes, together with a discussion of the main points of their work and critique of their ideas. It also goes into useful detail about their successors and their historical impact.

    Serves as a reasonable introduction to the history of economics for the general reader. There is bias introduced by the author's particular perspective. For example, he devotes a surprising amount of space to a discussion of whether or not Adam Smith was a practicing Christian. The description of Karl Marx is splendidly bitchy: a man described more than once as 'demonic'. He is villified, for example, because his children died in poverty. However, much of the discussion of Marx' work is reasonably unbiased and can be useful. It is obviously a matter of great dismay to the author that John Maynard Keynes described himself as an 'immoralist' and was openly homosexual for part of his life.

    A reasonably good read, less impartial than I would have liked, but presents the main economic ideas in an accessible manner.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  • Oliver
    Oswestry, United Kingdom
    2/28/12
    Overall
    "Poorly written - like student notes"

    Not impressed with this title at all - overly simplistic, historically inaccurate and written in small chunks - pretty much like a students' set of notes from lectures. Not for anyone interested in Economics or the economists in question. I would highly recommend Thomas Sowell's basic economics as it covers the essential points in a far more intelligent & lucid way

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Dimosthenis
    London, United Kingdom
    5/17/12
    Overall
    "An ode to Adam Smith"

    I was terribly disappointed by this book. I had in mind an objective and analytical account of each economists contribution to the field; this is not the case. The author favours Adam Smith above all and is sure to push his opinion at every opportunity.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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