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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.

Critic Reviews

"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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    5 out of 5 stars

Mind Expanding

Are you someone who likes to hear views that are different, or do you just want information that will support what you already think? If it is the latter, then forget this book - you will probably just get mad like one of the other reviewers. If it is the former, then get ready to get your world-view rocked. That does not mean that I ended up agreeing with everything - I have criticisms for every book and this book is simply too wide-ranging for its size to be able to make every argument fully - but I really appreciated seeing the different perspective. I have read Milton Friedman, and this is the other side. The book gave me a lot to think about, and it left me knowing less than before, which I think is a good thing.

5 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Edwin
  • Westmount, Quebec, Canada
  • 12-26-11

A must listen

What did you love best about 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism?

Eye opening unassailable logic.

If you could give 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism a new subtitle, what would it be?

required reading for life in the modern world

Any additional comments?

The World would be so much better if everyone understood the truths in this book.

4 of 14 people found this review helpful

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Interesting and thought provoking, though biased

A lot of interesting concepts and ideas, although much of it seems to be quite biased. The author seems to have fairly firmly established opinions and does his best to present these in a convincing way to the reader.

The facts and statistics that are presented as evidence for the "things" are all very interesting but frequently feel very unscientific. If comparing whether policy A or policy B is the best choice for economic development, it's not enough to say that "Look at country X, they used policy A and it gave them i% growth rate, while country Y used policy B and got j% growth rate." Those data points are not enough to give any sort of statistical indication without also considering a thousand other factors, and the author never acknowledges this by saying that "careful statistical analysis shows that..." so as a reader I don't know whether the arguments are pulled out of thin air or really just a huge simplification of a proper scientific study. I realize that the book aims at laymen with no background in economics (which surely matches me) but that's not really an excuse if it doesn't give me as a reader good confidence that the author has a firm basis for his claims.

The above situation actually extends to the whole book. I can accept that the "things" the author presents may very well be true, but reading the book I still get the impression that I'm not reading a neutral academic description but rather a manifesto.

The book is still very interesting though, and I'm not saying that the conclusions are wrong, in fact many of them seem very plausible to me (as a layman, once again). I'm sure that the argumentative rather than scientific format wouldn't at all feel as notable if it wasn't for the controversial topic of the book. With the world's financial system currently in turmoil it's clear that this isn't just light reading about economics, it's an opinion piece.

Bottom line, it's a good read and I can recommend it to any non-economists willing to hear a refreshing second opinion about our current capitalistic system.

2 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Good information - a little dry

What did you love best about 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism?

I liked the book, but I may not be the intended audience. I struggled to get through it. Very dry.

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • R.S.
  • Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Canada
  • 10-13-11

Lucid and Clear

This book is a lucid and clear disquisition on what goes for "free market" thinking. It examines 23 commonly expressed platitudes about economics and where they fail to explain economic and financial processes. It thereby provides interesting insights to the financial failures of 2008 and the present days. The reading matches the writing, making it difficult to put down. I now want to review the arguments on paper, as they are worthy of closer study.

5 of 21 people found this review helpful

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essential add-on to public standard economics

this book provides great insights and alternative ways of interpreting economic observations in a concise and coherent manner. healthy focus on developmental economics.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thoughtful skepticism to free market economics

The book is well written and easy to read. Chang pointed out many examples against idealistic free market economics. While I am believer in free market, I still find this book informtive and interesting. Afterall, skepticism is an important part of intellectual critical thinking in any discipline.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • Chesley, Ontario, Canada
  • 02-08-12

Must read for many.

What did you love best about 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism?

Should be mandatory reading for all politicians and bankers.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable.

What does Joe Barrett bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He does not stumble over the big words.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Global finances 101.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Lars
  • Southfield, MI, United States
  • 01-09-12

What They Don't Tell You

I agree with most of the analysis and conclusions of this book. The author promises to talk plainly about the economic points he is making -- but the "econ-o-speak" is definitely still present. Some of the information could have been better translated into everyday English.

1 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Sami
  • Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • 01-09-12

Not like anything else I read

This book is a must read for developing nations that are following blindly what is done at the developed countries economies without considering their action.

I read this book with an open mind. Its rationale, articulate and precise thoughts made me listen carefully to every word with all my senses. Surely, after done reading it, you will believe that the market is not as free as we like to think it is, but rather as long as humane efforts are based on individualism and the interest of big powers vs. those who are crushed in developing and underdeveloped nations, the world will never have hope for the future. It is only by the collective minds and powers of all people can we overtake this critical stage in humanity's life.

Finally, it is interesting to listen to this book from a southern American accent while the author is Korean!

1 of 6 people found this review helpful