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The Worldly Philosophers: The Lives, Times, and Ideas of the Great Economic Thinkers (Penguin Business Library) [Paperback]

Robert L Heilbroner
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 May 2000 Penguin Business Library
The final revision of this classic bestseller, the 7th edition defines the common thread linking the world's greatest economic thinkers and explores the philosophies that motivate them. Hailed by Galbraith as a "brilliant achievement", The Worldly Philosophers with over 2 million copies sold worldwide, not only enables us to see more deeply into our history, but helps us to better understand our own times. Heilbroner provides the new theme that connects thinkers as different as Adam Smith andKarl Marx: the desire to understand how a capitalist society works. A new chapter conveys a concern that today's increasingly "scientific" economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; 7Rev Ed edition (25 May 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140290060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140290066
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 8,710 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"Sinclair Lewis's "Arrowsmith" inspired several readers to become Nobel laureates in biology. Robert Heilbroner's new edition of "The Worldly Philosophers" will inspire a new generation of economists." --Paul Samuelson --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Robert L Heilbroner is the Norman Thomas Professor of Economics, Emeritus at the New School For Social Research, New York. He is author of more than 20 books, and has contributed to the New Yorker. He lives in New York City.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable 9 Aug 1999
By A Customer
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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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent survey of the mechanistic ideas of ecomonic development presented by theoreticians since the mid eigtheenth century.
The book begins cleverly with a chapter looking at why there were a lack of conspicuous economic theorists prior to Adam Smith and then goes on to expound their thoughts and theories with a simplified insight into the key conceptual leaps made by each figure as well as a cutting commentary on where the insight founders.
I say a simplified insight, and by this I mean a concise commentary which does not require any prior knowledge of economics or mathematics for that matter because the script is almost completely qualitative than quanitative and therefore contains virtually no formulae.
On the other hand it might be a good idea to have a comprehensive dictionary to hand because a fair sprinkling of either archaic or little used phraseology is employed throughout the text.
The final chapter entitled 'The end of Worldly Philosophy'is somewhat a surprise package and seems to be a little disjointed from the rest of the book, however it gives an interesting insight to where the current plane of economic philosophy lies.
If you buy the book you will learn much about how the World of money and economics really works, and its condensed form combined with strong guiding editorial comment makes it a worthwhile read.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A skillful lesson on economic lore 4 Mar 2005
As anyone who has ever endeavored to study the main economic texts of history will attest, economic reading can be a veritable desert of dusty prose. This book however manages to articulate the main concepts of a somewhat arcane field with clarity and breadth.
Personally I am rather deterred by formulae and graphs and fortunately this book is afflicted by neither. Heilbroner covers every stage of our economic history and development with an accessible style that conveys the main concepts of what can be rather complex economic theories with relevant anecdotes on the economists who penned them and their sometimes eccentric personalities (As with Thorstein Veblen, a strange intellectual giant who spoke 25 languages and was quoted as being 'the last man who knew everything', was largely ostracized by his peers for his radical views on the leisure class and who was adamant that upon his death no monuments, paintings or memorials of any kind be left in his memory).
This book is perfect for anyone interested in understanding how economics interacts with politics, morality and society and how the ideas of the great economic thinkers influenced our historical development right upto the present day.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good overview & verges on bedtime reading 1 Jan 2010
What new can be said about The Worldly Philosophers? The book is a marvel of easy-to-access history of economic though, charting the path from before Adam Smith, through Ricardo, Malthus, Marx, Veblen, Keynes and Schumpeter and ending with a discussion of the ends of the worldly philosophy - both its intentions and its extinction. Going in, I already knew a substantial amount about those whom Heilbroner wrote about, but I had not had their stories told to me with such panache and verve. Having previously read various short biographies of Marx, for example Paul Johnson's acerbic short biography in Intellectuals, it was refreshing to see a more forgiving and holistic view of Marx, especially from an author who has written so much using and contributing to marxist theory. The Worldly Philosophers makes a fantastic introduction to the history of economic thought - simply to provide a more expansive understanding of the intentions of economics and why so many have found its study to be such a stimulating and motivating force in their livings. I want to buy copies for my parents, and my wife will read it soon. What made it all the more pleasurable, is that, unlike many more technical books on economics, it was an easy 'read before bed' book because you could capture the narrative and sink back into it with ease, and emerge from it without feeling anxious about statistics and abstruser musings. I recommend this book strongly to any student of economics and anyone related to that student, you'll understand them better, I promise (it should be compulsory reading for any parent who wants their child to study economics). Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
I am the sort of person who doesn't like reading. I struggle at best and I've always hated reading but this book got me reading! Read more
Published 10 months ago by Mrs. M. Stanitzke
5.0 out of 5 stars Great little book
Great little book to start understanding economics, it travels through the life's of great economists to describe what economics is and why its so important to us. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jack Fennell
5.0 out of 5 stars As current as 60 years ago
Heilbroner wrote this classic in 1953, but reading it in 2013 you cannot help thinking how relevant it is to today's world economy. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Athan
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done, still relevant
An excellent introduction to the history of economic thought, a little like Wilson's "To the Finland Station" in its range.
Published 17 months ago by Gershon
5.0 out of 5 stars fabolous!!!!!!
This book "the worldly philosophers" is a fantastic book. This book represents the historic era of the development of the economic philosophy.
Published on 13 May 2012 by dpen
4.0 out of 5 stars Generally Successful, but with its Limitations
The Worldly Philosophers is one of the most interesting books I have read so far on the major economic thinkers and economic ideas of the last three centuries. Read more
Published on 2 Jan 2011 by Antonis
4.0 out of 5 stars Student Friendly
Many books and texts based around the topic of political economy are very heavy going and complicated, but 'The Worldy Philosophers' is a fairly simple read, almost written like a... Read more
Published on 8 Nov 2010 by Melanie
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterpiece - great introduction to some leading economic thinkers
Heilbroner has created a masterpiece with his 'Worldly philosophers' - a fantastic introduction to the main economic thinkers, their ideas and the times and circumstances that... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2010 by AK
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing book
This book is just amazing! I bought it years ago before my exam in economics at University. I was so bored with the massive basics book in economy that I decided to buy... Read more
Published on 31 Dec 2009 by A. Alfi
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, well deserves its reputation
This book well deserves its reputation. Heilbroner presents the main ideas of economic philosophers in a seamless fashion in their dynamic historic context. Read more
Published on 28 Dec 2009 by ArisX
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