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Publisher's Summary

Ever since we produced our course Thinking About Capitalism, customers have expressed interest in a follow-up course that could help them understand socialism in the same way. After much consideration, we determined that it actually would be more beneficial to create a course that compares and contrasts the two major global economic theories, examining them in ways that move past the polemics many of us are used to and looking at these systems as they relate to one another and the world at large.

Politics and economics are inextricable, so it can be difficult to find the right person to tackle such a complex and often polarizing subject as objectively as possible. Luckily, we found Professor Edward Stuart, an economist and teacher who specializes in comparative economics. Professor Stuart brings not only economic expertise, but personal experience gleaned from teaching, traveling, and consulting all over the world, and it is this wide lens of experience that helps make Capitalism vs. Socialism such an engaging new entry in our library of courses.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2018 The Great Courses (P)2018 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Good course, misleading title

This is an interesting and well-presented course on modern economic history, not so much an actual comparison of economic systems.

24 of 24 people found this review helpful

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Two thirds Great

The teacher is really good. It seems like he has personal experience in every single nation he mentioned. A huge chunk of the beginning was basic economic theory (Adams, Cain and Marks) and the economics of Soviet Russia and present day United States. I dearly wish he had spent a little more time on the European Union. He said it was a success AND a failure, then didn’t fully say why. Another topic which I wish he had elaborated more on was the three Asian tigers. Why are these places so different from the rest of the world? I know this was generalized course and there are doubtless a lot of books on the topic but there was a lot of time spent reiterating stuff on Russia. If the Soviet system was the same in all the Russian satellite countries, then I don’t need a new general background on communism for every country that was communist.
Still, was really solid. I had no idea how different France and Germany were compared to the US economically. Most people will probably learn a lot.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars

More History than Econ

I am neither historian nor economist, but I did expect more explanation of the ideas and workings of economics and especially the differences between capitalism and socialism. While there was some talk of economic functions it was almost lost under the verbose repetition of European and some world history- but with little in the way of building an overview of the two systems

26 of 28 people found this review helpful

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The Great Courses are appropriately named

This was the best, non political, explanation of economics I have heard in a long time.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

History of application of both economic systems

I was searching for a book that would answer a question that I constantly stumble upon in internet: which system is better? After reading I can confirm that neither is good, but a combination of both works best.

The author compares both systems, by looking at how they were applied in life. Some of the examples he uses are China, England or the Soviet Block countries. While this is an absolutely valid and correct approach, I thought I would get something different. I imagined the book will be more theoretical and will tackle more the feasibility of ideas presented by both systems. Truth be told, we get this in the first chapters of the book, but it was not enough for me. I would also like to see/hear more analysis of the economies of the other soviet block countries.

Overall, while I had some objections, I that this is a really great book with nice performance. It is my first book from the Great Courses, I think it raises the bar pretty high. I will definitely keep it in my library.

15 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Too much history, not enough theory

I was looking forward to the counterpoint to Thinking about capitalism, but was somewhat disappointed. I was expecting a bit more about the ideological or theoretical system of socialism and marxism and less an historical overview of countries. There too much about Keynesian economics and some of the historical vignettes seemed superficial. Overall a superficial treatise of socialism.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Good lecture.

You should read “The Creature form Jekyll Island” for a better understanding of the time period. This lecture does not cover fractional reserve banking (like it should) that causes booms and busts to occur with on capitalist economies.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good presentation

A very important contribution to general knowledge; though I think leaves out the essence of the lessons of History.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars

A great primer focused on thinkers and history

Professor Stuart makes comparative economics interesting and accessible. Having taught and travelled widely throughout Europe and Asia, he has a lifetime of firsthand experience (not to mention a fund of entertaining anecdotes) concerning Soviet Russia and post-Mao China. His explanations of complex economic concepts are rendered using homespun analogies that I found easy to grasp, and his suggestion in lecture 14 that twenty-somethings use Keynes’ Marginal Propensity to Consume as a tool for identifying compatible life partners seemed like very sage advice. Professor Stuart’s focus on the human dimension of these two economic systems – the thinkers, their theories, the history, and above all the impact on the daily lives of citizens – made this an enlightening and enjoyable lecture series. The puns were fun, too.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Scientific Economics

An excellent review of 20th century economic systems and history. What's the difference between the economics of Sweden and Slovenia? Find out in this user friendly course.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • The Blue Reviewer
  • 05-04-18

Brilliant!

Imagine yourself in a concert hall and everybody is sitting down. You see the stage well enough, but you'd see it better if you stood up. But if everyone else stood up at the same time, everybody will see less than when everyone was sat down.

I paraphrased the analogy used to to explain the "Paradox of Thrift". This is what makes this audio book so brilliant. It is peppered with such analogies.

Professor Edward is excellent, his delivery flawless and he likes to use puns and then apologise for them :)

8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • G Douglas Whistler
  • 12-07-18

A history of why capitalism was best all along!

This lecture series is a basic introduction to the various, specific, real-world political-economic systems employed in Europe, Asia, & the United States in the twentieth century.  It is not very ambitious in terms of looking further than the global North, & it does not address intended, imagined, or ideal poltical economic systems.  These lectures are a twentieth-century economic history course, not a comparative economics course.

The lecturer is a US-American, whose pro-market, consumer-focussed stance is unwavering, & whose willingness to tie the value of (non-free market) economic systems to the personal & political failings of their proponents is highly ideological & reductionist.  In addition, he has a frustrating habit of expending a lot of time on tangentially-relevant personal anecdotes rather than the subject of his lectures.  His personal pride, sexism, obsession with the national origins of individuals, interest in the 'national' characteristics of economics, & (in one instance) open racism (he justified US slavery on the grounds of Africans' better tolerance to labouring under a hot sun!) made parts of the course particularly difficult.

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  • brian daly
  • 11-03-18

excellent

brilliant that audible do the great courses and the latest courses at that keep up the good work brian daly

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  • Avity
  • 06-30-18

interesting overview

Easy listening, filled with personal touches to enchance the sometimes dry info. Would recommended to anyone interested on the subject.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Thomas White
  • 09-10-18

The great economic course

A Wonderful listen for anyone remotely curious - interesting, easy going and entertaining- fully recommended to all

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Annalie
  • 09-05-18

Excellent lecture series

Insightful overview on the development of global economic systems. A lively presentation, worth listening to!

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  • Mick
  • 05-04-18

Great lecture, engaging lecturer!

loved it, couldn't stop listening, had it wrapped up in no time. Definately worth the time to listen to.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful