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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily Digestable and Full of Flavour
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics...
Published on 15 Feb. 2003 by tdsfox

versus
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Add pinch of salt
While I found this a very readable, lively guide to capitalism and all the jargon you read in the newspapers, I was a bit disquieted by some sections. Smith takes it as given that capitalism and growth are good for most people and will go on indefinitely expanding.The notion of limited physical resources which the planet offers is summarily dismissed.

His...
Published on 11 Dec. 2008 by DJ


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53 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily Digestable and Full of Flavour, 15 Feb. 2003
By 
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics - both new and old.
For those new to economics, perhaps one of the most refreshing features about the book is that it contains no diagrams and just two simple equations - which is very unusual for a contemporary book on economics. As an undergraduate studying economics, I cannot help think that a diagram in one or two places would have clarified the explanation - however, this may have over-complicated things for the general audience, and I think Smith was right to leave the book diagram free.
Even as a student, who supposedly should know a fair bit about economics, I found the book highly informative, clarifying issues that I am studying at the moment and touching on new topics that I have not yet encountered. To my surprise the book focused on various aspects of current economic theory in a clear and concise manner that will no doubt help me in my studies.
'Free Lunch' contains a wealth of general economic knowledge presented in a highly accessible and often witty writing style. I would therefore recommend this book as an excellent introduction to economics.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great introduction to a confusing subject, 21 May 2007
By 
Jeremy Williams (Luton) - See all my reviews
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Economics is one of those things I've always thought I ought to know more about, but all previous attempts to educate myself have ended in either confusion or terminal boredom. Well done then, to David Smith and his Free Lunch, for rendering the subject both understandable and engaging. Smith introduces all the basic ideas and the big names in this whistlestop tour of economic theory. By the end you'll be familiar with Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Maynard Keynes, you'll be able to wax intelligent over the dinner table about interest rates, and you'll have heard some interesting anecdotes along the way.

I personally found it very useful in drawing out all the connections between consumer spending, tax, interest rates, and how they all impact each other in the mysterious machine known as 'the economy'. Those wanting deeper analysis will want to look elsewhere, but if you're only going to read one book on economics in your life (and let's face it, for most of us one is plenty), this is what you require.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Digestible Introduction to Economics, 12 Feb. 2003
By 
Julia Whitfield (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
David Smith, Economic Editor of The Sunday Times, has presented an excellent and digestible introduction to economics in his new book, Free Lunch, Easy digestible Economics. Smith provides a good general overview of key economic concepts, an examination of current economic issues and an introduction to key economic thought of the last two hundred years. Smith includes topics such as whether Britain should change to the Euro currency, why some countries are designed to remain in poverty, and how British monetary policy has evolved over the last twenty-five years. Best of all, Smith uses only one simple equation and does not offer a single complicated mathematical example.
The book is set out as a meal plan with appetizers, a main course, desserts, coffee and guest speakers. Guest speakers include many well-known economists such as Carl Marx, Adam Smith, and Maynard Keynes, but the contributions of some less famous economists such as Ricardo are also examined. Smith also provides further details of economic web sites worth visiting and a book list for the interested reader wishing to learn more about economics.
All in all, the book is a fantastic introduction to economics, giving the necessary information to understand the way in which our countries are run and our personal finances are controlled.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Useful Outline, 11 Jan. 2008
By 
P. Reavy (Belfast, N. Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This book is easy to recommend to anyone wanting an overview of economics.

I came across David Smith via his web-site which reproduces the columns he writes as the economics editor of the Sunday Times.

I studied economics at school but it never quite clicked. Later, when I got interested in free markets, I read Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson and a couple of books by Hayek.

These were great, but I could never quite link them up mentally with the economics I learned at school. David Smith's book has joined up the gaps for me.

He takes the basic concepts and links them into today's economy. For instance, he summarises UK monetary policy since the 70s into a couple of pages and briefly explains the thinking behind tax credits.

There are introductions to major economists like Smith, Ricardo and Keynes.

It's a handy primer which I found useful.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good introduction to the economy, 27 Jan. 2004
By 
C J RAMSEY (PRESTON, ENGLAND United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
I have a fairly average understanding of the economy but have often felt fairly lost when watching business news on TV and listening to people talking about GDP, the relationship between interest rates and inflation, the effects high/low taxation on government revenue and public spending etc . . . . My business is investing in the property market and I need a firmer understanding or economics if I am to reduce the risks associated with my line of work.
This book gave a good, top level grounding in how the different elements of the economy interact. He does this without getting boring or going into too much detail. I found the book very easy to read and it held my attention. This is no easy feat for a book on economics!
However I am left feeling that my taste has been wetted and I need to know more in order to fully understand the subject. The book has done well to stimulate my interest to the extent that it did, but did not provide enough detail to satisfy me.
If you just want a top level, interesting introduction to economics and how it effects Joe Bloggs you won't regret buying this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great tool for eager economists., 13 Feb. 2009
By 
M. Andreas (Cyprus) - See all my reviews
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It is at times like these when the world is facing a period of recession when one needs to sit down and read a "thing" or two about economics. Being an eager economist, I was truly impressed with the fields covered by David Smith.

The great thing about this book is the writing style. Smith does not complicate things, in a way that someone who studied economics before may find it a bit too amateur. But the purpose of this book is to provide basic knowledge on the 5-10 main areas that one needs to touch in order to continue with, or simply learn about economics.

In my opinion the writing on the Credit Crunch crisis of 2008 seems a bit rushed but this is not something to overshadow the main idea of the book, as the effects of the crisis are yet to be fully revealed and no author seems and will seem updated enough to illustrate the economic crisis on paper, unless the economy recovers. This is a tool for someone who has had little -if any- economic knowledge and seeks to broaden it.

One shall not expect difficult diagrams or complicated and advanced vocabulary, as Smith definitely puts out an excellent and easy-going "dinner party" for someone to enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, mathematics-free introduction to economics, 15 July 2012
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I don't really have any serious academic interest in economics, but I've recently started to read around the subject because I'd like to bee able to understand the present (IE July 2012) Eurozone crisis. Also, I believe that knowledge of economics cannot be harmful.

I bought this book because I thought it would provide a simple, easy entry into the subject, and the big appeal to me was that this book promises to forego the complications of diagrams and equations that appear in economics textbooks. This was a big plus for me since I'm not so hot on my mathematics. The book fulfills its promise, with the exception of the equation relating to GDP, which is pretty easy to understand. The author manages to include most of the (surprisingly few) branches of economics without using too much econo-jargon and getting bogged down in details.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but I don't believe this book deserves five stars. It's certainly well written and accessible, and I've certainly learned a lot from it, however something about it just didn't sit quite right with me. Sometimes, though infrequently, the author does get bogged down in details, and I occasionally felt like I was being expected to apply knowledge that I hadn't before learnt. This mainly took the form of "if X then Y" scenarios that the author had tried to use to demonstrate a specific point, and I would fail to see the leap that got from X to Y. Also, structure did create a few issues, such as wittering on about inflation without really explaining what inflation is and what causes it. I may have simply missed the point, however.

On the whole, I'd recommend this book to anyone who is an economics amateur, and I think it could act as a bridge between this and more advanced texts. It won't make you an economics expert, but it will certainly leave you knowing even just a little bit more about the way the economy works.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily Digestible and Full of Flavour, 23 Feb. 2003
By 
This highly informative and interesting book is presented in an original and 'easily digestible' format, suitable for all readers. Smith manages to cover most, if not all, of the economic issues concerning us today, in a concise 282 pages. I was particularly impressed with the references to economic history and the incorporation of so many of the 'big names' in economics - both new and old.
For those new to economics, perhaps one of the most refreshing features about the book is that it contains no diagrams and just two simple equations - which is very unusual for a contemporary book on economics. As an undergraduate studying economics, I cannot help think that a diagram in one or two places would have clarified the explanation - however, this may have over-complicated things for the general audience, and I think Smith was right to leave the book diagram free.
Even as a student, who supposedly should know a fair bit about economics, I found the book highly informative, clarifying issues that I am studying at the moment and touching on new topics that I have not yet encountered. To my surprise the book focused on various aspects of current economic theory in a clear and concise manner that will no doubt help me in my studies.
'Free Lunch' contains a wealth of general economic knowledge presented in a highly accessible and often witty writing style. I would therefore recommend this book as an excellent introduction to economics.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars free lunch - but what is the target audience?, 14 Feb. 2009
An excellent comprehensive book, that should be read by anyone with a genuine interest in the subject who doesnt already have a degree in economics - but don't be fooled by the title. It should really be "relatively digestible economics". This is not "Economics for Dummies". I bought it for my teenage children to help them to understand the current crisis but I am afraid that it is, for them, too much like "study" rather than a casual read.
I am still looking for an "easily digestible economics". If anyone has any suggestions, please feel free. Mr. Smith, how about another version?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A tasty introduction to economics and the history of economic thought, 25 Jan. 2009
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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Borrowing Milton Friedman's phrase "there's no such thing as a free lunch", although pointing out that he was not the first to use it, and using the analogy of a very long lunch party, David Smith has written a piece de resistance of a book on economics. It succeeds both in providing a simple explanation of current economic thinking, while introducing them in an order that allows us to understand their historical development.

Thus we travel from Adam Smith, through Thomas Robert Malthus, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill, enjoy a diversion via Karl Marx, to John Maynard Keynes and finally arrive at Irving Fisher, Milton Friedman and "the Americans" who have dominated economic thinking since the Second World War.

Smith eschews the graphs so beloved of economists because he wanted to avoid the appearance of yet another text book. His book works well without them, although I wonder whether one or two simple ones, like the supply and demand curves, would have enriched the diet a little. But even without them Smith provides a good introduction to supply and demand, and to many other economic concepts including specialisation and the division of labour, the elements of GDP (GDP = C + G + I + X - M is one of just two formulae presented), marginal utility, marginal revenue, monopoly - and why it's never a good thing, taxes and government spending, and the development of theories of money.

In the last chapter, "Arguing over coffee", he addresses some current hot topics in economics, including globalisation, how much tax a government should raise, whether the euro is a good thing, whether growth is necessary, inflation should be kept low, and whether Britain needs a manufacturing sector. While the book is billed as an updated edition, "with a new appetiser on the credit crunch", of a book first published in 2003, the update consists of just nine pages in the new introduction, written in October 2008. We could have had many more "arguments over coffee" about our current financial predicament, and a further and slightly more comprehensive review might therefore be worth it in a year or two.

David Smith, economics editor of The Sunday Times, has a journalist's eye for the prurient interest, and does not hesitate to comment on Adam Smith's physical ugliness but eye for "potato fed Irish prostitutes", Marx's alcoholism and lack of personal hygiene, and Keynes' homosexuality. While some will think this unnecessary, it does give a little flavour of the men (and, with the single exception of Friedman's collaborator Anna Schwarz, they are all men) and their times. This book of 270 pages (including a twenty page "bite-sized" glossary at the end) could, of course, never aim to be more than a "taster", and Smith has had to tread a fine line between ignoring some economists altogether and making a merely token mention. Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and "the Austrian school" get a single mention (and no listing in the index (p.203, by the way)) as a footnote to Friedman and the Chicago school.

I bought this book as an introduction to economics for my twelve year old daughter, who has been expressing interest in business - too much exposure to "Dragon's Den" I expect - because it seemed to be written in a light style. For her it is more suet pudding than soufflé, but it's not inedible, and we are working through it together. (Are there no other economics books for kids other than GCSE texts?) David Smith maintains political neutrality as far as he can, although I think readers will discern a slight preference for the free-market approach of the classical economists and, more recently, the monetarists.

This is a great introduction to economics and its history for the general reader, and I can but recommend it. I am hoping to recover from thinking food metaphors soon.
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Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics
Free Lunch: Easily Digestible Economics by David Smith (Paperback - 2 Aug. 2012)
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