Techdirt Reading List: The Worldly Philosophers

from the economic-history dept

We're back again with another in our weekly reading list posts of books we think our community will find interesting and thought provoking. Once again, buying the book via the Amazon links in this story also help support Techdirt.
When I talk to people who are interested in the concept of economics, but never really got into the specifics, I often suggest they pick up and read (or at least skim) The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers, by Robert Heilbroner. It's not an economics text by any means, but rather a highly readable and interesting look at some of the earliest economists, their lives and philosophies. At least one friend told me after reading this book that he finally realized that economics is not boring -- and isn't just about numbers, graphs and charts -- but rather really is a form of philosophy.

There have been some criticisms of The Worldly Philosophers over the years -- including that Heilbroner inserts his own viewpoint and opinions into it, and sometimes focuses on creating a good story over a fully accurate representation of the individuals covered in the book. That may be true, but I'm not convinced it really matters that much. The book is not a full and thorough scholarly work or biography about these individuals, but is (in my opinion) a great way to think about the concept of economics itself and how it developed, while learning a bit about the original characters who created the field.
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Filed Under: economics, history, reading list, robert heilbroner, techdirt reading list, worldly philosophers

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  1. icon
    davebarnes (profile), 24 Sep 2015 @ 3:30pm

    I first read it in 1964 in 10th grade economics class.
    I then bought it in 2010 and reread it.
    Excellent both times.
    Highly recommended.

    Heilbroner is a bit of a Marxist, but you can easily overlook that.

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