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am 1. Januar 2000
This is the latest edition of this popular book. Potential readers need to be clear what this book is and just as important, is not. This is not a systematic history of economic thought or an introduction to economics. This is a basic overview of the ideas of a number of important economic theorists and the backgrounds against which their ideas emerged. Heilbroner is a good writer with an eye for telling anecdotes. He has considerable mastery of source material and is even handed in discussing his subjects. A recurrent theme is the way in which each important thinkers' ideas reflected the experience of capitalism in his time. Some chapters are better than others. I liked particularly the chapter on Marx which does a nice job of discussing the strengths and weaknesses of Marx's analysis. I would personally prefer a more demanding and systematic book but as a very readable and entertaining introduction, this book can't be beat. An excellent volume for an intellectually curious high school student or undergraduate.
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am 9. August 1999
I approached this book with the thought that "Ok, ok, I know I've got to get around to reading more about these guys sooner or later" attitude. What a fortunate find, and great way to begin!
The author takes a subject (economics) that is often beyond dry and makes it both entertaining and educational, with lots of surprises thrown in. Every time I thought I had caught the author in a mistake or an oversight (Ah ha! Now I've got you!) he'd cover my questions or thoughts within the next couple of pages or so. The author earned my confidence again and again. I found him to be a reliable guide through treacherous waters.
There's a lot of good history in this book. He tackles each major economic philosopher (and others), makes the man come alive in the context of his times, and relates his thinking to our own time by putting their ideas to the test of subsequent history. I particularly enjoyed the chapters on Smith and Keynes.
The author, like any good educator, doesn't give you everything. He gives you lots of food for thought. I also found the author to be thoughtful and unpretentious. I plan to read more books by him.
My copy also contained a very nice description of suggested readings.
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am 30. Juli 1999
Many people (witness the other reviews below) receive their introduction to the history of economic thought by reading this book. What a shame, then, that it is such a statist account. If you are going to read this tome, note that praise of Keynes, Schumpeter, Galbreath, _et al._ is a partisan activity, and that not everyone thinks more government is better (or better economics, for that matter). Indeed, this point of view is generally on the retreat throughout the world -- except in American publishing and academia.
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am 21. August 1999
Though it won't teach you economics in the academic sense, this is a good introduction to learning how the study of economics developed and the thoughts of major players in the history of the field. It's very well written in a story-like fashion, and when I finished, I was very much interesting in directly reading the works of these worldly philosophers. I've studied economics before, but it was never quite as intersting as this.
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am 8. März 2000
This book is about learning from the past and applying it to the future. It is important that we understand the philosophic economics of the past. The author explains what has happened in a "reader friendly" way where the past is understandable and applicable, which is the pure purpose history serves.
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am 15. September 1999
ADam Smith, Marx, Ricardo, Mill, Vieblen, Keynes: they're all in this book, which focus on their ideas and the time in which they lived, as being the main factor in their opinions. The author states, corrrectly, that the time for "philosophers" economists is gone.
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am 15. Oktober 1999
This book was not one of my favorites...in fact I didn't like it at all. I think they undermind what it is to be a writter. I don't think this author should write any more books. I had to read this book for my economics class and the whole class struggled through it because they thought it was poorly written. I think it had good points, but the author didn't carry them out in the right way.
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