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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful and still relevant
I read this book back-to-back with another book by Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed. Though Small is Beautiful is the title for which he is most well known, my strong preference was for the latter title.

Small is Beautiful is the earlier book and is rightly recognised as a key instigator of what we might call `grown-up' environmental awareness. The...
Published on 4 Sept. 2011 by Steven Unwin

versus
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent in places, but accompanied by naive metaphysics.
I had a hard time deciding what rating to give this book. At times it was both engaging and plausible, at others it was so infuriating I had to put it down and come back with lowered expectations. The book was made by sewing several essays together, and as such reads more like an anthology than a single treatise. Schumacher passes through a variety of subjects trying to...
Published on 13 Dec. 2011 by A. Wickens


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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Prescient Man with a Plan, 5 Oct. 2008
By 
R. Walters (Glasgow, UK) - See all my reviews
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A good measure of a book is its applicability and relevance beyond the immediate scope or historical context. I had to read this book as part of my MSc course in Sustainable Development. Schumacher rightly predicted many of the issues now at the forefront of environmental economics: the political/social/oil problems of relying on exports/imports, the energy crisis, dual economies in developing countries and the associated social unrest, and most importantly, the problems of conventional wisdom/paradigm inertia in classical economics. Overall, great book that is refreshingly original economic thinking when compared to the jargon and rubbish in introductory economics textbooks. Writers like Schumacher, John Kenneth Galbraith, etc, help restore economics to a useful and engaging subject. For further reading: his musings and recommendations for local production for local needs can be explored further in Peter Kropotkin's writings.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sadness on late reflection, 21 Nov. 2011
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Returning to this extremely influencial book after nearly 40 years I was utterly dismayed to be reminded that Fritz was first and foremeost an economist and secondly what little scientific understanding he held was based on the German molecular science "inside the box" foundation not the more useful, for economics, "outside the box" British Natural Philosophy. He quotes C P Snow as stating that a man who is not familiar with the Second Law of Thermodynmics is only half educatated as an engineer who had never heard of Shakespeare; Fritz then dismisses as irrelevant the Law that Einstein and Eddington both claimed was the most important Law of the Universe; Fritz clearly demonstrates Snow's point that he, Fritz, was only half-educated and as such ignorant of how the Premier Law influences everything in the universe. How such a wonderful caring intellect, working inside an energy company, failed to understand that the economics of coal followed the 2nd Law, as indeed Jevons had noted 100 years before, is only explicable as lack of understanding as demonstrated by the worth he awards the then leading physicist C P Snow. British physicists formulated the 'Science of Energy' on the economics of coal at the height of the industrial revolution. 1973 was the year Georgescue Roegen published 'Entropy and the Economic Process'. Interestingly Fritz refers to 'spaceship earth' but seems in ignorance of Boulding essay so titled that was published in 1966 presenting just why the Second Law was so influential to real economics, while Soddy published the still unanswered case in 1912.

The tragedy is indirect as Small is Beautiful is one of, or perhaps the, most widely ready, influential, beneficial, optimistic and sympathetic books ever written on economics; Frtitz's dismissal of the Second Law has been a major stumbling block to the acceptance that the most basic laws of Physical science underpin 'real' economics, whether ecological or just real. This has only encourgaged not challenged the belief that the 'so-called' science of economics can be valid yet in total denial to the physcial laws. If anyone came up with economic theory that defied the Law of Gravity, most folk would be just a little sceptical, but because of ignorance such as Fritz demonstrates allows the equally intellectually bizare concept of economic theory defying the Second Law to be intellectuallly respectable.

Love and hug this book for its social and lifestyle messages and in particular Burmese economics, but replace the science commentary with Soddy, Boulding,Georgescue-Roegen and Daly so that Schumachers wisdom remains on firmer and more influential foundations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As relevent now as when it was first published., 23 Oct. 2012
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Fritz Schumacher was an economist who did his job on the basis of 'people matter'. This is economics for a caring society, read and learn; It was first published in the 1970s and it is as relevent now as it was then if not more so!

For the book see: Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'we are more than the sum of our possessions'.., 3 Jan. 2010
By 
Peter Buckley "peter15115" (Dyfed, Wales) - See all my reviews
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What is wrong with our world? Can one short book contribute a meaningful answer to this question? By looking at the major historical themes in economics, that is, land and scarcity, man and education, goods and production, energy, housing and development, and looking at the thinking behind our present view of them, the answer is yes. The book advocates a shift in lifestyle, one that accords material goods a secondary place after putting people ahead of profits, a oneness with our planet,and ensuring a future for both. Although first published in 1973, helping the Alternate Technology movement, the book should be regarded as required reading for many other reasons than the familiar Green agenda.
Much of what we achieve is labelled `economic' or `uneconomic', or simply said, what is profitable in monetary terms. The book highlights how, even in the short term, a full picture of man and his purpose on earth will change our assumptions of what is economic.
Chapter six focuses on education, the greatest of man's resources. The emphasis here is on understanding the driving philosophy of our world and compare with an alternative. At present, man appears lost when contemplating whether his existence has lasting significance. Why? Six leading ideas bear responsibility according to Schumacher, namely, 1. Evolution, 2. Natural selection, 3. Competition, likewise a `survival of the fittest', 4. Freud's interpretation of the subconscious, which reduces the higher manifestations of man's unconscious intelligence to the unfulfilled urgings of childhood, and the idea that these higher manifestations, religion, philosophy and art, for example, are inferior or superfluous compared with material goods and their consumption, 5. Relativism, the idea that knowledge is not absolute, but depends on the relations in which things stand to each other, and limited by the changing conditions of our perceptive faculties, 6. Positivism, the acceptance of only that which can be scientifically proven, or that which can be experienced, all else being regarded as speculative and hence inferior.
These are the ideas that dominate the way the world is interpreted for us. They are also destroying us.
The book argues for a holistic, long-term approach, working in harmony with the environment, a balance between the urban and rural dweller, and the western and third world, avoiding a `small, mean calculating attitude to life, one that refuses to see or value anything that fails to promise an immediate advantage'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Romantic Revolutionary, 28 July 2011
I have loved re-reading Small is Beautiful. Amazed by the breadth - economics, the environment, religion, international development, technology, business and how to change the world. Amused by ideas that now seem unbelievably old fashioned - watch out in particular for his opinion on women and work. Shocked by his prescience, the relevance of so much of what he says for today. And challenged!
I took to reading it out loud so I could enjoy the romance of the language and I skipped bits when they got boring - even so overall it remains a great read. It's full of passion and great turn of phrase.
Fritz Schumacher was born 100 years ago and yet he is more revolutionary than just about anyone writing today. Well worth a read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Could I not give it 5?, 22 Sept. 2014
By 
Mr. I. F. Roderick (Bristol, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Small Is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered (Kindle Edition)
As the Director of The Schumacher Institute I could hardly not rate this seminal text as highly as possible. It is often said that Schumacher's ideas are as fresh, and increasingly relevant to the 21st century, as they were when he wrote Small Is Beautiful. There are few books that i have read as many times as this one, each reading produces new insights particularly into how people matter in all things.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Economics for 21st century, 6 Nov. 2011
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My book's arrival was very timely. I'd just seen yet another travesty of European economics at its best on BBC news. Schumacher has a clear point to make and this book should be globally required reading for all school children. It promotes a world where we care for one another and everyone has enough to eat. Essential reading so we can continue to live on this planet together.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and formative, 16 Oct. 2011
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I found this book very interesting and formative. It certaintly makes one think of the material things that people become dependent on and how time and life can easily become less important. I am glad i read this book and would recommend it. Schumarcher, wrote about the desires that can be controlled by technical powers which by production ravish nature.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still Valid for Today, 5 Mar. 2011
By 
Sally Garrington (Shrewsbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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How prescient was this book!First published in 1973 Scumacher was one of the first to question the world's obsession with increasing economic growth without really looking at the consequences. (Although this book was post Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" it was pre Brundtland and Rio).
Schumacher questions many of the ideas that still hold sway today such as the future dangers of relying on nuclear power and the over-use of natural resources on which we all depend. He introduces the idea of intermediate technology as a means by which developing countries can improve their quality of life but without damaging their resource base or making them dependent on industries from the West. He further discusses the need to make people central to any development and not economic growth.
He finishes the book by looking at new patterns of ownership and questioning the occurrence of "private affluence and public squalor" as found in the USA. His ideas about wage differentials are now reflected in today's concerns about the huge inequities between the highest and lowest paid workers and the consequent impact on society. He also proposes that the profits from business should be shared with society and not just through shareholders and the (abused) tax system.

A book whose views are still valid today and a useful base for discussing (and solving?) the problems of today's world, ravaged as it is by the impact of global corporations and unsustainable use of the Earth's resources.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A book everyone should read., 21 Jun. 2011
Ernest Schumacher was decades before his time when he wrote Small is Beautiful. His warnings given just before he died in 1977 are becoming more and more pressing now. His description of small scale economics, what he calls Bhuddist Economics is a recipe for survival against the threats of Peak Oil, Climate Change and Pollution.
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