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4.1 out of 5 stars18
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 31 October 2009
Many reviews treat this book as if it were simply an "Economics" textbook. It is nothing of the sort. True, many important economic terms are explained and many economic concepts are illustrated with illuminating examples, but, at bottom, this is a powerful argument for a free market economy and a small (if not minimal) state.

This book expounds the economic system that supports the political system advocated and defended in Sowell's many other works, including "Preferential Policies" and "The Conflict of Visions" to name but two. It does the job by highlighting the unintended consequences that so often follow when governments try to do more than their inherently limited knowledge will allow.

This book is not a balanced presentation of the arguments (are any of them?), but far more one sided and polemical than any textbook could afford to be.

So; Not a textbook, but rather an antidote to the often well-meant but ill-focused and ultimately useless waste of money that passes for policy in much of the developed world. Sowell does sometimes labour the point, but the title is "Basic Economics" and for all that the book is still very readable. A reader can dip in to it here and there for Sowell's thoughts on particular topics or read it cover-to-cover. Depending on their own pre-conceptions they will emerge with either a reinforced arsenal of arguments or a severely challenged worldview.

Just don't expect a graph of the Phillips Curve.
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on 26 February 2008
An excellent book if, like me, you don't know much about economics. Explains alot of concepts in depth and clearly. Can get a bit long winded at times, but you come away well informed of different ecomomic principles.

Contains some excellent bashing of politicians and politics.

Gets five stars for clarity and content.
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Economics is at the same time a fascinating and rather complex subject. It is fascinating since it touches on so many aspects of our lives, and it is complex due to the highly technical analysis that is oftentimes required to be mastered in order for Economics to be fully appreciated. This technical complexity oftentimes obscures rather simple principles that underlie most economic phenomena. The well known relationship between a supply and demand is one of those, and a good example of a simple concept that is oftentimes misunderstood, ignored, or downright overlooked in everyday circumstances, especially when political considerations are at play.

Thomas Sowell begins the book with one of the most insightful definition of what is economics. In this view, economics is nothing but a study of limited resources for which there are alternative uses. In heaven, there would be unlimited resources; in hell no alternative uses. In the real world we need to take into account the limitations that are imposed on us by the facts. Each use of a product or a resource prevents other viable uses. Economics is ultimately the science of tradeoffs, and it helps us with making the most rational decisions about those tradeoffs.

This book is primarily aimed at general public and its aim is to make this public literate in terms of thinking and understanding economic processes. It is a very readable account, and it contains neither technical jargon nor sophisticated mathematics. All of the examples are taken from everyday experience or the major stories that have been making the news in the recent decades. Hopefully, the book will raise the level of basic literacy and inculcate us from the demagoguery that often accompanies political talk on economic issues.
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on 12 April 2011
Thomas Sowell is a clear-sighted economist and writer, who has produced here a highly readable and very informative insight into free market economics.
He invites the reader to look to the results of policy, rather than the intentions of politicians (good as they may seem) - for instance, he shows how minimum wages increase youth unemployment and rent controls reduce the availability of cheap housing, when both are ostensibly aimed at achieving entirely different aims.
I give this four stars, rather than five, only because I feel that it is slightly over-written; he makes the same points more than once. I'm sure that this is because he is trying to hammer home a message to non-economists, but it occasionally drags.
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on 31 May 2013
Trade this book in?

No chance - its brilliant, and I want to read it again, probably more than once.

Thomas Sowell is not just insightful, wise and clever, he has a gift for putting forward complex ideas in the most concise and accurate terms, and makes a dry subject fascinating and even at times funny.
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on 24 February 2009
This is an excellent book that's very well written and easy to understand. It's a must read for every budding economist!
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on 18 October 2012
If you never had any previous exposure to economics principles and you wish to know more about the subject, then this is the right book for you. In my opinion, it is really a masterpiece on the basics of economics, where the few underlying principles are explained and supported by plenty of facts and data. A must read.
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on 18 April 2011
A very easy to read book for anyone who wants to give themselves a basic understanding of economics. It is very lengthy but very informative. For people like myself who have little or no understanding of economics I found this to be a very good & indepth primer.Do not be put off by its length.
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on 12 March 2014
Worried it would be too high-brow but it is clear simple, concise, and well informed. So pleased I bought it.
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on 21 April 2013
AN excellent book from Mr Thomas Sowell.

Excellent writer, very prolific, well documented and with an excellent sense of pointing out the truth.
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