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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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Jan
  • Naestved, Denmark
  • 05-25-07

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.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Elton
  • Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 05-10-07

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.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

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?

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roman
  • Saint-Petersburg, Russia
  • 12-21-11

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.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Kazuhiko
  • TUXEDO PARK, NY, United States
  • 06-16-13

I don't agree with but appreciated this book

I am definitely not a Marx fan, but I felt that this author is a bit too conservative for my taste. Yet, I actually appreciated the way he explained, summarized, and contrasted these three men's ideas. The reality is that, I think, these three men's ideas were shaped by the political and social environment of the times each experienced as well as by their social backgrounds. I recently read (listened to) both Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and Joseph Stiglitz's The Price of Inequality and was amazed by how the world has changed between 1776 and 2012. I would not be surprised if Smith were alive now as an economist, he would have agreed with Stiglitz's viewpoint (though I am positive that the author of this book would not agree with me!). Anyway, I enjoyed listening to this book.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Bias. Told through bourgeoisie values.

The author does not disseminate without subjectively adding personal opinions instead giving you his ranking and pushing you toward his view. You yourself should be the person to contemplate and adopt a model.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • steve
  • Clovis, CA, United States
  • 11-11-08

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.

7 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • Colorado Springs, CO, United States
  • 04-24-08

A bit dry

The text was a bit dry. Good topical information.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • P K
  • Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • 11-24-11

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.

9 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great Intro to History of Economic Thought

Skousen's aim in this book is simple: chart the main developments in economic science from the work of Adam Smith through the underworld of Marx's communism to the macroeconomics of Keynes and his critics. After discussing the relevance of Adam Smith's contribution (chapter 1), he discusses the "rise and fall of classical economics" (chapter 2) before introducing the economics of Karl Marx (chapter 3). Chapter 4 discusses the rise of "scientific" economics (i.e. its mathematization and the influence of historicism) followed by the contribution of Keynes (chapter 5) and his critics (chapter 6).

Overall, this is a very good introduction to the history and development of economic science. The only fault I find with the text is that it does not discuss the pre-Smithian contributions of the late Scholastics, which were fundamental to later developments. But perhaps that is a bit too much to ask for a popular introductory text.

Jeff Riggenbach delivers an excellent performance.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • David
  • 04-30-08

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.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-28-12

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

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • D
  • 05-17-12

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 11-10-17

interesting read

Narration was good. Great all round introduction to economics. Highly recommend. A great book if you want to understand economic basics and principles or a fantastic starter for further study.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Roxana
  • 10-18-17

good for general knowledge

it is performed in the best manner possible. the book itself is good for acquiring general knowledge. it helps to have a somehow clearer understanding of economics in general but there are not too many details .

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Lina Brooks
  • 09-15-16

Biased

What would have made The Big Three in Economics better?

Less of the biased opinions of the writer , and more objectivity

Has The Big Three in Economics put you off other books in this genre?

No, I am aware not eveyone is so pro capitalism and so biased towards anything else.

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Jeff Riggenbach?

N/a

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

Annoyance and urge to delete this audio book

Any additional comments?

Very pro capitalism and very biased towards it. Definitely very un-objective read, unlucky with my choice of book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • zeeshan
  • 12-08-15

Great Book

I enjoyed it and learnt a lot but I did feel it could be better if stayed neutral by avoiding cheap jibes at Marx.