The Making of Modern Economics
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2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Here is a bold, new account of the lives and ideas of the great economists–Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman, and many others–all written by a top free-market economist. Presented in an entertaining and persuasive style, Professor Mark Skousen tells a powerful story of economics, with dozens of anecdotes, illustrations and photographs of the great economic thinkers.
“A story rarely told….It’s unputdownable!”
–Mark Blaug (University of Amsterdam), author of Economic Theory in Retrospect
“One of the most original books ever published in economics.”
–Richard Swedberg (University of Stockholm), author of Schumpeter: A Biography
“Provocative, engaging, anything but dismal!”
–N. Gregory Mankiw (Harvard University)
“Irreverent, passionate, entertaining, sometimes mischievous, like the author himself!”
–David Colander (Middlebury College), coauthor of The Making of an Economist
“I loved the book–spectacular!”
–Arthur B. Laffer
The Making of Modern Economics is different from all other histories of economics.
A Rarely-Told Story of High Drama
First and foremost, Professor Skousen tells the remarkable untold story of free-market capitalism’s long-running battle against Keynesianism, Marxism, socialism and other isms. It is an account of high drama with a singular heroic figure, Adam Smith and his celebrated “system of natural liberty.” The running plot involves many unexpected twists and turns; sometimes our hero is left for dead, only to be resuscitated by his free-market friends; the story even has a surprise ending.
A Full-Scale Critique of All Major Doctrines
All previous histories tend to give a dry, disjointed, and helter-skelter account of economists and their contradictory theories. But Skousen unifies the story of economics by ranking all major economic thinkers either for or against the invisible hand doctrine of Adam Smith. Thus, Marx, Veblen and Keynes are viewed as critics of Smith’s doctrine, while Marshall, Hayek and Friedman are seen as supporters.
Using this ranking system, The Making of Modern Economics offers a full-scale review and critique of every major school and their theories, including classical, Keynesian, monetary, Austrian, institutionalist and Marxist.
A Complete History
Skousen’s history is comprehensive. He makes a point of discussing all schools of economics and not just the ones he agrees with. Too many economists have omitted major characters from the history of economics, a practice bordering on intellectual dishonesty. Robert Heilbroner’s popular book, The Worldly Philosophers, for example, virtually ignores the laissez-faire French, Austrian and Chicago traditions. (His latest edition does not even mention Milton Friedman by name!)
Think of The Making of Modern Economics as a contra-Heilbroner history.
It’s a perfect antidote to all those biased, inaccurate attacks on the free market and its proponents.
Skousen records the lives and ideas of important economists often ignored in other histories, such as Montesquieu, Ben Franklin, J. B. Say, Frederic Bastiat, Friedrich List, Herbert Spencer, Ludwig von Mises, Knut Wicksell, Philip Wicksteed, Max Weber, Irving Fisher, Roger Babson, Frederick Taylor, A. C. Pigou, Joan Robinson, Paul Sweezy, Paul Samuelson and Murray Rothbard.
Skousen’s book also restores the vital role of the Austrian and Swedish schools in the marginalist revolution and the development of monetary economics. It emphasizes the impact of other disciplines on economics, such as evolution, sociology, and religion.
“Tell All” Biographies
Skousen’s book brings history alive with exciting new insights into the lives of the great economists through in-depth biographies and the author’s own research, revealing an amazing tale of idle dreamers, academic scribblers, occasional quacks and madmen in authority.
The Making of Modern Economics does its best to entertain, with provocative sidebars, humorous anecdotes, even music selections reflecting the spirit of each major economist. Samples:
Why Adam Smith burned his clothes…and then burned his papers.
The “satanic verses” of the poet Karl Marx.
Were Malthus, Ricardo, Marshall and Keynes anti-female?
The infamous grading technique of Chicago’s Jacob Viner (he regularly flunked a third of his class).
The sexual scandals of Karl Marx, Carl Menger, Joseph Schumpeter and Friedrich Hayek.
The story behind Marx the phrenologist, Jevons the astrologer, Keynes the palm reader, and Friedman the amateur hand-writing analyst.
Which famous economist is buried next to rock star Jim Morrison in Paris?
How Darwin and Wallace discover their theory of evolution after reading Malthus.
Why Malthus and the doomsdayers have been proven wrong about overpopulation and environmental crises.
The strange case of David Ricardo: Why Schumpeter, Keynes, and Samuelson admired him–and deplored him.
Why Malthus refused to have his portrait made until age 67.
Why Hayek blames John Stuart Mill, a hero of classical liberalism, for popularizing socialism among intellectuals in the 19th century.
The real origin of the epithet “dismal science,” and why critics are now calling economics the “imperial” science, with ever-increasing applications in law, finance, history, and politics.
How John Stuart Mill and the disciples of David Ricardo became hostage to the Marxists, and how Carl Menger and the Austrians revived the laissez faire model of Adam Smith from oblivion.
The inside story of three multi-millionaire economists–David Ricardo, Irving Fisher and John Maynard Keynes.
The bizarre story of Jeremy Bentham: from democratic reformist to utilitarian fascist.
The socialist origins of the American Economic Association and the London School of Economics.
Veblen’s incredible prophecies about World War I and II.
Thorstein Veblen versus Max Weber: Who had a better vision of capitalism?
How Irving Fisher became an advisor to the fascist Mussolini.
The little-known story of how the economics establishment in the West (including economists at Cambridge, Harvard and Yale) failed to forecast the 1929-32 economic collapse.
How Austrian economists Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek were able to predict the 1929-33 crisis, yet failed to convince the world of their theories.
How the 1929 crash served as a catalyst for Keynes’s “general theory.”
How Keynes saved the world from Marxism in the 1930s.
The truth about Keynes’s homosexuality and the rumor that his Cambridge colleague, A. C. Pigou, was a Soviet spy.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP)–how a Keynesian statistic was invented by a Russian.
How Irving Fisher’s misinterpretation of his quantity theory of money led to his losing a fortune on Wall Street, and how Milton Friedman avoided repeating Fisher’s blunder.
Why Friedman and the Chicago school triumphed over Mises and the Austrian school in discrediting Keynesianism and restoring the Adam Smith model of market capitalism.
Fully Illustrated with Over 100 Photos, Portraits and Graphs
Finally, The Making of Modern Economics is the first fully-illustrated history of economics, with over 100 charts, portraits, and photographs, including a picture of….
…Keynes in bed (where he made his millions),
…Eugen Boehm-Bawerk in official regalia as finance minister of Austria,
…Alfred Marshall trying to hide his oversized left hand,
…the preserved body of Jeremy Benthem in London,
…the only known photograph of Irving Fisher smiling (before he lost millions in the stock market), and
…over 75 rare and unusual photos and portraits of famous economists.
Provocative Chapter Titles
Here are the titles of each chapter of The Making of Modern Economics:
1. It All Started with Adam (Adam Smith, that is)
2. The French Revolution: Laissez Faire Avance!
3. The Irreverent Malthus Challenges the New Model of Prosperity
4. Tricky Ricardo Takes Economics Down a Dangerous Road
5. Milling Around: John Stuart Mill and the Socialists Search for Utopia
6. Marx Madness Plunges Economics into a New Dark Age
7. Out of the Blue Danube: Menger and the Austrians Reverse the Tide
8. Marshalling the Troops: Scientific Economics Comes of Age
9. Go West, Young Man: Americans Solve the Distribution Problem in Economics
10. The Conspicuous Veblen Versus the Protesting Weber: Two Critics Debate the Meaning of Capitalism
11. The Fisher King Tries to Catch the Missing Link in Macroeconomics
12. The Missing Mises: Mises (and Wicksell) Make a Major Breakthrough
13. The Keynes Mutiny: Capitalism Faces its Greatest Challenge
14. Paul Raises the Keynesian Cross: Samuelson and Modern Economics
15. Milton’s Paradise: Friedman Leads a Monetary Counterrevolution
16. The Creative Destruction of Socialism: The Dark Vision of Joseph Schumpeter
17. Dr. Smith Goes to Washington: The Near Triumph of Market Economics
“Essential” for your library! A “must-read!”
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(The reference graphs for the audio book version (from Blackstone) are available on the Blackstone website.)
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