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The Principles of Political Economy [Paperback]

David Ricardo
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

30 July 2004
This landmark treatise of 1817 formulated the guiding principles behind the market economy. Author Ricardo, with Adam Smith, founded the classical system of political economy, a school of thought that dominated economic policies throughout the 19th century and figured prominently in the theories of John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx.

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The Principles of Political Economy + The Wealth of Nations: Books I-III
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (30 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486434613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486434612
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 13.1 x 1.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable work from a dynamic time 22 Dec 2004
Format:Paperback
Ricardo was one of the leading political economists of his time, and for me, of all time. His writting style is offputting were as the ideas he expounds are remarkable. Modern economists are too eger to ignore the theories of Ricardo, and indeed many have not even read this work, however for the serious economist to understand political economy is to contemplate the importance of its beginings.
Ricardo was not only an outstanding economist, furthermore he was an active politician battling in westminster for economic reforms which would shape England for decades after his death.
I would recommend this title to anyone with a genuine interest in the history of economic thought, or indeed economists who feel that modern economics struggles to encapsulate the true interplay between social and economic issues.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real gem of a book - how did this pass us by? 26 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Whilst (for me - but hey - who am I to critisise) there are a few Homer Simpson 'doh' moments in Ricardo's thinking, his underlying principles are possibly more valid today to dig a country out of recession, than they were 'in the day'. Substitue Ricardo's various types of land - and what makes each desirable to own and RUN, and you have the principles of GLOBAL eCommerce trading - comparing (say) a farmer who realises a much larger income from his land by leaving his field 'fallow' and running 'car boot sales' once a week instead, to (say) trading on eBay as a 'market full of stalls where everyone wants something for nothing, to (say) selling on Amazon in a shopping mall full of shops where the more discerning customers flock. If (and its a BIG 'if') a trading treaty was signed to join America to the British Commonwealth - big and small - and also join America to Europe, we would see the end of the recession, we would blow the heavily subsidised goods we purchase from the Far East clean out of the water, and in doing so, we would see the dearth of famine, want, and disease as all three economies 'pull together' to achieve sustainable growth for everyone. Yes Ricardo's thinking is along the lines of Adam Smith - the man responsible for the principles that made Britain the richest country in the world - but Ricardo also has some very good 'twists' to Adam Smith's amazing thinking that should possibly be considered by our Government.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A worthy read into the origins of the political economy 25 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The ideas put forward by Ricardo in this book challenges some of the ideas presented by Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations, particularly in the principles of economic rent. Ricardo also revealed interesting insights on the subject of value in chapter 1.
To understand the text fully,it would be advisable to have read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, another book in the Great Minds Series, which I had also painfully digested.
Like other books in the Great Mind's series, have a good cup of coffee ready. It is a very challenging and difficult read. Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile read for those serious in understanding the foundations of the present economic systems.
38 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Intelligence 7 Jan 2001
By Skip Church - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Some authors you read, and perhaps think, "I wish I'd written that!" Ricardo, like Adam Smith and John Locke, are in another league altogether. The originality of mind is stunning. Smith, Mill, Malthus and J.B. Say are all more readable, which I fear sounds like a very poor recommendation for Ricardo! Still, I was so bowled over by the originality of his theoretical line, that I forgave much slow slogging through a difficult text. His theory of rent is I think quite misguided, but is so powerfully presented that I was hard put to think how I might argue against it were Ricardo to appear before me in person. I took this book about ten pages at a time, and found it well worth the trouble.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for the student of Social Sciences 12 Feb 2003
By Roberto P. De Ferraz - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Along with Adam Smith, the Englishman David Ricardo is one of the fathers of the so-called Classics school of economic thought, and the Principles is his major opus, one he was very much reluctant to write, but only did so at the urgings of James Mill and his son John. Written in the first half of the 19th victorian century, he was nonetheless, a very freed mind, who did not accept or indulge in the extravagancies of the beginning of the industrialization proccess in England. To David Ricardo, Karl Marx owes a good share of his theory of labour, something essential in the labour movements of then. The concepts adapted and created by David Ricardo is transported to the text in a dry and concise style, not too much worried in polemics, but only interested in address the topics he raises in a very precise way. IF you are a student of Social Sciences, this book is a must.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comments on CreateSpace Edition 2 Feb 2012
By Graham - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This Maestro Reprints (aka CreateSpace) text is a reprint of the 1st Edition of Ricardo's work.

Ricardo's ideas on political economy, especially on labor value, rent and comparative advantage, were extremely influential in the evolution of classical economics and deserve careful reading. However Ricardo's initial discussion of labor value contained some significant issues, and Ricardo made considerable revisions to this section in the 3rd Edition, as well as other scattered changes. For a modern reader trying to understand Ricardo's ideas, it is probably best to start with the 3rd Edition, as best representing his final position.

The Maestro Edition also contains some significant typos in tables in the first and second chapters. This causes conflicts between the tables and the text.

After realizing these issues with the Maestro/CreateSpeace version, I switched to the Liberty Fund version, which is based on a scholarly UK edition sponsored by the Royal Economic Society. That text is based on Ricardo's 3rd Edition, but also includes footnotes or appendices with the text from earlier editions for any revised sections.

Based on what I've seen, I'd definitely recommend the Liberty Fund version as the better text.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Another step into understanding economics-a VERY worthwhile read 16 Mar 2010
By Sareinhart - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got this book, well frankly because I wanted to read John Maynard Keynes' General Theory. I got 2 pages into it and realized that I needed to do a little more background work. Keynes referred to Ricardo a bunch in those first few pages, so I skipped to this book.

I am VERY glad that I read Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" before I read this book. Ricardo constantly refers back to it. He also refers to Malthus, Buchannan and Say alot. I did learn a great deal in this book-and he proved very effectively some points that seemed counter-intuitive to me. There are a few things that I still don't agree with, but I recognize this as a the next step down the road to modern economics.

The language in this book was more "modern english" than "The Wealth of Nations" but still not what I would consider entirely modern. Another thing that made this book a little more readable was the lack of long digressions on various things. Ricardo's examples were short and very illustrative. "The Wealth of Nations" was laced with Enlightenment philosophy which really made my little libertarian heart flood with joy. There was none of that, here. Very much more like a text book.

The reason I knocked off a star was Ricardo's habit of taking great pains to explain in great detail how this or that would happen under this or that circumstance...and then in 1 paragraph at the end explain why this would never actually happen, or explain why he didn't really mean what it sounded like he was saying. Frustrating.

Overall, a good and very worthwhile read. Don't expect to be entertained-but expect to learn something.
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